For ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 18 Music Issue, we persuaded 14 athletes to re-create some of the most memorable album covers. As part of our supplemental coverage on Playbook Sounds, we will be running behind-the-scenes interviews with each athlete, as well as their personal playlists.
• Athlete: Allyson Felix, Olympic gold-medal sprinter
• As: Beyonce on "Dangerously in Love" (2003)
Well it's actually funny -- everyone says I am a really laid-back and quiet person. I always feel like when I'm on the track I have to get into this alter ego before I run, so I listen to her song "Diva." The song kind of takes me to the other place, to be this other more aggressive person.
I don't consider myself a diva at all, but the song has a bit of an attitude and I inherit that when I step on the track. I think about winning and not really caring about anyone else's feelings and just caring about myself in that moment.
Are there particular lyrics in that song that you relate to?
Since 15 in my stilettos been struttin' in this game
What's your age? Was the question they asked when I hit the stage
I'm a diva, best believe her, you see her, she getting paid
She ain't callin' him to greet her, don't need him, her bed's made
This part basically says: "I got this, I've been doing this all my life" -- and that's what it's like for me on the track.
Were you channeling Beyonce when you won your gold medals?
When I warm up I listen to Beyonce and when I'm on the practice track I have the song playing and it just kind of gets you into the mood of not being laid-back and out of my calm nature, feeling hyped up and ready to go.
Do your teammates know about your warm-up ritual?
I don't think the team knows but the song is kinda old, it's something I've been doing, I've mentioned it in an interview before but I am not sure that many people know.
What were your thoughts when the opportunity to film this cover came about?
I was excited; I love Beyonce. Who wouldn't want to be Beyonce for a day? I think when I thought about it, I didn't think everything would be so detailed and exact, like down to the makeup ... and it was kind of funny to see it transforming little by little. This shoot is so different than anything I ever do so I really wanted to be a part of it. Just kind of out of the ordinary.
Do you have anything in common with Beyonce?
I think she's a really hard worker and a bit of a perfectionist, and I think I have those characteristics too.
What else are you listening to?
Anything Jay-Z, Kanye West, at some points I really like Adele.
Katy Perry and Rihanna. Anything that is really upbeat and gets me in the zone.
The Playlist: Allyson Felix’s off-the-track tunes