Allyson Felix defends her decision
LONDON -- Allyson Felix knows full well she has a pretty pristine reputation.
She also knows that's why there were those who were surprised she decided to not step aside and give training partner Jeneba Tarmoh a berth in the 100 meters at the Olympics after their dead heat at the U.S. trials -- a choice Felix found herself defending at a news conference Tuesday.
"Everyone just expected me to give up this spot, because I think lots of people ... know me and they know that I'm seen as this very nice girl," Felix said with a chuckle.
"But it's not just about me," added the 26-year-old from Los Angeles, explaining that she had to take into account her coach, Bobby Kersee, family members and others who helped and supported her.
"It's about Bobby and the time he invested in me. It's about my parents and the sacrifices they made, my brother and the agents that are working with me -- and just everyone who's invested their time in me," Felix said.
Felix and Tarmoh tied for third in the 100 at Eugene, Ore., in June, and only three women were allowed to represent the country in London. Caught without any rule governing that sort of result, USA Track and Field scrambled to come up with a way to break the tie, with the athletes eventually settling on a head-to-head sprint.
"We both deserved it. We both deserved to fight for it," Felix said.
But it was Tarmoh who opted to withdraw from the run-off hours beforehand, ceding the spot to Felix.
"I try to stay very positive and not let what happened in the past affect my future and whatever is going to take place," Tarmoh said recently, dancing around the topic a bit.
Felix was similarly vague when she was asked Tuesday whether what transpired at trials has made it awkward lately to train alongside Tarmoh, who's also coached by Kersee.
"I definitely just don't want to get into specifics, just because now is the time to focus, and my focus is definitely completely on competing," Felix replied. "But I think anyone who's just looked at the situation and been around it, you see that me and Jeneba are together all the time, and so I think that definitely speaks for itself."
Seated to her right, U.S. teammate Jason Richardson, the reigning world champion in the 110-meter hurdles, nodded vigorously to confirm what Felix was saying.
Kersee also insists his two sprinters are OK with each other.
"No animosity whatsoever. They warm up together. They warm down together. They go out to eat together. It's none. They put it where it should be put," he said. "When they step inside the locker room, they're competitors. When they step outside the locker room, they're friends."
By the time USATF set up the run-off in Eugene, Tarmoh had failed to qualify in the 200 but was assured of being part of the U.S. Olympic relay roster.
Felix, meanwhile, already was set to race at the Olympics in an individual event because she won the 200 at the trials in a personal-record 21.69 seconds -- the sixth-fastest time in history and best since Marion Jones ran 21.62 in 1998.
"I think it was five years since I had a PR. Quite a long time. And it gets frustrating. You see people dropping times like it's nothing. And when you get to those times, it just seems like you just chip away at it slowly and it can definitely get discouraging," Felix said. "And so to finally have that breakthrough was definitely very encouraging to me and just let me know that all the training is not in vain, and that I'm still on the right track and there's more to come from me."
She has won three world championships in the 200, and twice finished second to Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown in that event at the Olympics. Even Felix acknowledges "the odds are definitely against me" in the 100.
At least she'll be in the starting blocks Friday for that event.
Tarmoh will not.
"The situation was just unfortunate, you know. It was an emotional situation," Felix said. "But just to talk about not giving up a spot -- I think that this is the Olympics. This is not something that I started last year. ... It's not an easy thing."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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