Allyson Felix speeds up event speculation

May, 13, 2012
5/13/12
3:34
PM ET

DALLAS -- Allyson Felix's appearance at the U.S. Olympic Media Summit was the last leg of an around-the-world sprint of a road trip -- a very successful one.

Felix won a pair of 100-meter races in Kawasaki, Japan, and Doha, Qatar, within a week's time, the latter in a career-best time of 10.92 seconds over a strong Diamond League field that included reigning Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica. That triggered renewed curiosity about whether Felix might attempt to qualify for the Olympics in track's most glamorous individual event along with her personal favorite, the 200, where she is a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist.

She was ready for the question. "I'm just going to start saying, 'Ask Bobby,'" Felix said, referring to her coach, Bobby Kersee. "I will run another event, and Bobby will make that decision closer to [U.S. Olympic] trials."

[+] EnlargeAllyson Felix
Adam Pretty/Getty ImagesAllyson Felix said Sunday her coach will made the decision on whether she runs two events at the London Games.

Last season, Felix focused on a 200-400 double and upped the amount of endurance training in her regime. She raced both events at the world championships and ran a personal best in the 400, which comes first in the event schedule, good enough for a silver medal. But she felt spent in the 200 and lost her title to her Olympic nemesis, Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown. She has refocused her training on more speed work this season and attributed her recent showing to improved technique in the blocks.

"I was surprised I put it together," Felix, 26, said of Friday's Doha race, where she also defeated Campbell-Brown. "For me, the speed has always been there. It's been my start; I've always put myself at a huge deficit from the beginning. So I think I was just more shocked that, finally, I'm strong enough to compete with these women and I can actually put my speed on display. I was happy. I've worked a lot on that portion of the race and to finally see it paying off is a cool thing."

Felix won't rule out running the 400 this summer, but has spoken of the 100-200 as a more natural dovetail. Running the 100 is not exactly a new concept for her -- she raced that distance in high school and was the 2010 national champion in the event. Regardless of what she and Kersee settle on, she said the 200 is her priority. "I've had almost eight years to think about being a silver medalist," she said, putting a slight emphasis on the color.

She's also familiar with the argument that she should just focus on what is most dear to her: winning Olympic gold in the 200.

"Sometimes you do spread yourself too thin," she said. "It's hard, but I think it also makes it difficult when you know you have potential at something and you want to fulfill that. For me this year, I said, 'OK, the 200 is my main focus.' If I do another event, it's going to come second to that."

Felix, looking fresh despite a 16-hour flight from Qatar, fielded a variety of other questions, including one from a British reporter who asked if she lamented track and field's low profile in this country.

"If you were in Britain, you'd be an absolute superstar," he said. "Here I sense that you're in the second tier," at which point Felix laughed ruefully.

"Second?" she joked, then got serious.

"We're definitely not one of the premier sports [in the United States]," she said. "It's very clear. We barely race on U.S. soil. It's sad. It's such a great sport. I have such a passion for it, I want other people to."

There is a "disconnect," Felix added, between the number of talented young people who run in high school and college but take the sport no further.

"I don't necessarily feel undervalued," she said. "Because that's not, for me, what it's about. I didn't come into the sport saying I want to be famous or I want to get a lot of money. I truly love track and field and I think that's what it has to be about to continue on."

Felix also said she hopes that having high-level competition in the Middle East is making a difference in the lives of women who face cultural obstacles in participating in athletics there.

"I've been going to Doha since I was 19 years old and I've seen a big change," she said. "Of course, it's not, I think, anywhere near where it needs to be, but I think it's progressing. It's just really cool to go there and see them excited about it and see the girls excited about competing. Even the lifestyle portion, even if they just pick up on that, you don't have to be this elite athlete, but just adopting that type of lifestyle, making it part of your daily routine, being active."

Bonnie D. Ford covers Olympic sports for ESPN.com.

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