Allyson Felix to run 100, 200 at trials

Updated: June 21, 2012, 10:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

EUGENE, Ore. -- In at least one way, less is more for Allyson Felix.

Felix still is thinking about winning gold medals in multiple events at the Olympics. But she'll be adding the 100 meters to her specialty, the 200, instead of the more grueling 400 she had been training for over the past year.

Felix will begin her bid for the 100-200 double at the U.S. Olympic trials Friday.

Allyson Felix/Sanya Richards-Ross
Getty ImagesAmericans' Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross could face each other in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials.

She was originally signed up for the 400, as well, but was listed as "scratched" in that event Wednesday. Her brother and agent, Wesley Felix, confirmed the decision with The Associated Press.

It marks a change of course for America's most decorated female sprinter, who has won three world championships at 200 meters but has twice finished second at the Olympics to Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Last year, Felix tried the longer double but had disappointing results at the world championships, clearly fatigued while finishing third in the 200 after placing second in the 400.

Her game plan started changing last month in Doha, where she ran a personal best 10.92 in the 100. Suddenly, she was talking about the possibility of a 100-200 double instead.

"It's definitely one of my possibilities," Felix said a few days after that race. "Since my last race, people actually believe me. I'll run the 200 for sure and then I'll see ... whether I'll run the 100 or the 400."

Felix did not immediately respond to emails from the AP seeking comment Wednesday.

She is hardly the first great sprinter to face a choice of which race to add -- and go with the shorter one. Usain Bolt was always considered a 200-400 prospect, but won a long-running argument with his coach, Glen Mills, who finally backed Bolt in the 100-200 double. Everyone knows how that story ended: At the 2008 Olympics, Bolt set world records in both, and he hasn't looked back to the 400 since.

The 100-200 double is a less-taxing endeavor, not only because of the shorter distances but because the Olympic schedule also allows for a rest day between the 100 finals and the start of the 200 qualifying.

But it puts Felix in direct competition with a handful of Jamaicans, including Brown and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, to say nothing of America's Carmelita Jeter, the reigning world champion in the 100, who has the world's best time in 2012 (10.81 seconds). Jeter is also signed up in the 200 and expected to run in that event, as well.

Felix's only Olympic gold came in the 1,600 relay in 2008. A few days before that victory, she was crestfallen, as she lost by 0.19 to Brown -- the second straight time she had been disappointed on the world's biggest stage in her biggest event.

"Deja vu," Felix said after that race, "and not in a good way."

In an interview last month, she said winning that 200 gold is still her priority.

"I'd totally be lying if I said I could walk away and be happy" without a gold medal," she said.

Based on last year's results at worlds and this year's training, she and coach Bobby Kersee came to the conclusion that the 200-400 was too much to take on in what could be the last Olympics for the 26-year-old sprinter.

In an interview this week with The Associated Press, the only man to pull off the 200-400 double at the Olympics, Michael Johnson, said Felix should focus only on her main event.

"Last year was the first time attempting the double for her," Johnson said. "That was eight years into her career. I'd have attempted something like that many, many years before that, learned from it and created a strategy from a competition standpoint that lent itself to eventually being successful at the double."

Sanya Richards-Ross also spoke about her pursuit of a double at the trials. The decorated 400-meter specialist will attempt to make the U.S. team in the 200 as well after setting a PR of 22.09 seconds at the adidas Grand Prix meet in New York earlier this month.

Though Richards-Ross never has run both events in a major championship on the senior level, this isn't the first time she's done the double made famous by Johnson.

"I remember in 2002 I ran the 200 and 400 at the world juniors, so to be able to 10 years later have that opportunity again, it's just an amazing thrill for me," she said.

It won't be easy, as the 200 field will be loaded. In addition to Richards-Ross and Felix, Bianca Knight, Tianna Madison, LSU NCAA titlist Kimberlyn Duncan and Jeter have all declared for the event.

"I think the 200 is shaping up to be one of the more exciting events at these trials with some phenomenal athletes," Richards-Ross said, "and I'm just excited to be part of that."

information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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