Allyson Felix closes long journey with an Olympic record

She describes herself as an “old lady”. He acknowledges that he doubted he would be competing for that long. There were times when “making it” had nothing to do with the Olympics and more than anything to do with getting out of a hospital bed.

It’s no surprise then that Allyson Felix showed up to her last Olympics without fear of losing.

And it was not surprising that on this Friday night he came out winning.

It was not the gold medal in the women’s 400 meters. But bronze will look just as pretty in your trophy case. It is medal number 10, the one that leaves her high in the record books.

On a sticky, damp but thrilling night in Tokyo – Felix – the sprint gazelle, the mother, the activist, the realist woman – became the most awarded track athlete in Olympic history.

He looked radiant as he stepped onto the lowest drawer of the podium at the Olympic Stadium – the new bronze shining as he perched on his white sweatshirt, embroidered with “USA”.

“So many times, I gave all the priority to these championships,” he said. And I didn’t want to do it this time. I’ve had to go through so much. I always run for gold. But tonight I just wanted to have a moment of happiness, whatever happens ”.

Felix’s 10th Olympic medal broke the tie with Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey, and is now tied with Carl Lewis, who won 10 medals and was ranked as America’s most successful track athlete. Felix could pass Lewis on Saturday, when he is expected to be part of the 4×400 relay.

She had to start on Friday, as it had to be this time, at the loneliest position on the track, Calle 9. It’s the lane at the far end, in front of younger rivals, all behind her and where she couldn’t see them.

Throughout his illustrious career, one spanning five Olympics and two decades, rarely part of the 9. It is the turn of those with the fewest chances of victory.

But in starting, he avoided what destroys runners. She was careful to leave very quickly, a natural instinct when she has no idea where the rest are going.

He ran a near-perfect run, considering the circumstances. I do not win. Very few people expected that. She came 1 second and 10 hundredths behind Shaune Miller-Uibo, the Bahamian who took the gold from her five years ago in Rio, when she stretched at the finish line while Felix ran upright.

It hurt. Second places in Athens and Beijing as well. Felix, an athlete who is suspicious of her privacy, ended up crying after those results.

After a semifinal this week that was martyrdom from start to finish, she recognized that she was no longer the young girl from before. What he didn’t say was that the finale wouldn’t be a fairy tale.

“Of course, I didn’t want to find myself in that position, because that’s what I was hoping to achieve,” he said. But I can put both aside. I feel like I have traveled so much compared to the other Games. These have been different. It sounds like a cliché, but honestly it is something that goes beyond the mere fact of going out for a run ”.

The bronze came almost three years after Felix sparked a debate about the treatment of women in athletics and sports in general. She broke her contract with Nike, which deducted payments from the contracts of the women they sponsored if they got pregnant. Felix had a daughter in 2018.

She earned her medal with a pair of sneakers that she designed for the company she founded.

Felix has also spoken honestly about the difficulty of returning to competition after a pregnancy that required an emergency cesarean section that put the lives of her and her baby at risk.

During the week, he gave voice to a theme that found echo in Tokyo: winning is not everything and that the pressure of getting on the podium makes the whole effort much more difficult.

“When I get ready to run, I’m usually scared,” he wrote in a message on social media that he posted hours before the race. “I am not afraid of losing. I lose a lot more than I win. This is life and this is how it should be ”.

In the end, Felix had nothing to fear.

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Allyson Felix closes long journey with an Olympic record