The third time was a charm as Santa Clarita’s Allyson Felix crossed the finish line in 21.88 seconds Wednesday to achieve her biggest career goal: an Olympic gold medal in the 200-meter sprint.
The 26-year-old Canyon Country resident was heavily favored to win the 200m, her signature event, after coming away with silver behind Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown in 2004 and 2008.
Always a strong finisher in the 200m, Felix overcame a slightly slow start Wednesday and poured on the steam as she rounded the bend, crossing the line 0.21 ahead of Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. American teammate Carmelita Jeter took bronze and Campbell-Brown finished fourth. No woman has ever won an Olympic track and field event three times.
Felix’s time was just 0.06 off the world record. It was her first individual Olympic gold; she won gold in Beijing in 2008 as part of the U.S. 4×400 relay team.
Felix displays what she calls her “favorite piece of jewelry” Thursday. Photo: Allyson Felix
“I’m so thankful to God just to have this opportunity,” the L.A. Baptist High School grad told NBC after the race. “I just wanted to keep running and dive for that line – you just never know.” It wasn’t really all that close.
First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted to Felix: “Congratulations on winning gold! Thx for making us proud & for all you do w/ FitnessGov.”
Fitness.gov is a project of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition that has partnered with Team USA to bring 1.7 million free or low-cost physical activity opportunities, including expanded after-school programming, to youth across the nation.
Magic Johnson tweeted: “Congrats to my friend Allyson Felix on winning gold in the 200!” to which Felix replied, “I never forgot what you told me. Your words inspired me.”
Demus finishes a close second in the 400m hurdles.
Fifteen minutes before Felix ran, Palmdale’s Lashinda Demus – an assistant track coach at College of the Canyons in Valencia, who works out at COC – took silver in the 400-meter hurdles behind Russian Natalya Antyukh, who turned in a personal best time of 52.70. Demus, who came in right behind her at 52.77, was considered a favorite to take gold.The 28-year-old mother of two was the reigning leader in the 400m hurdles, winning gold at the 2011 world track championships in Daegu, South Korea, with a time of 52.47.”Of course I wanted the gold medal and I will not stop until I get the gold medal. You will definitely see me in 2016,” Demus told NBC afterward.
Felix runs away with gold in the 200m final
Daegu was a mixed bag for Felix, who was the 200m champion in 2005, 2007 and 2009, trading the crown back and forth with Campbell-Brown. Felix was favored to win gold in Daegu but came away with bronze as Campbell-Brown won the race and Jeter finished second. Felix also ran the 400m at Daegu, and the training seemed to take too much out of her. (She silvered in the400m and won gold in the 4x400m relay but expressed disappointment with her No. 3 finish in the 200m.)
Nike shoe saleswoman. Photo: Twitter
This time she doubled up with the 100m sprint instead of the 400m. Felix finished fifth in the 100m in London over the weekend (Fraser-Pryce took gold), but it was an effective warm-up for the 200m that allowed her to practice her takeoff.
Evidently it worked. Felix’s time in the 200m in London was 0.34 better than Campbell-Brown’s gold-medal time last year in Daegu.
She’s not done. Already a women’s record holder in international competition with eight gold medals coming out of Daegu, Felix will see if she can make it 10 by helping the U.S. team repeat its Olympic gold-medal performance in the 4×400 relay Saturday.
Felix started running in the ninth grade and turned professional in 2003. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2008 with a degree in elementary education and aspires to become an elementary school teacher. Since 2005 she’s been coached by Bob Kersee, husband of Olympic heptathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and she’s sponsored by the shoe company that says, “Just do it.”
On Wednesday, she did.