By Signal Staff
Allyson Felix, pursuing a U.S.-record 10th Olympic track and field medal, qualified for the women’s 400-meter finals on Wednesday morning, posting the fastest time she has run this season in one of three semifinals that set the field for Friday’s final race.
Felix, 35, ran the 400 meters in 49.89 seconds, finishing second in her semifinal and automatically qualifying for the final. She trailed only Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson, who ran a 49.34.
The top two finishers in each of the three semifinals, plus the next two fastest runners from any of the three races, will make up the field for the 400-meter final scheduled Friday evening in Tokyo, about 5:35 a.m. Pacific time.
In the meantime, Felix will take the track once more in Thursday’s heat race for the women’s 4×400 relay. The U.S. team’s heat is scheduled 7:37 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo, 3:37 a.m. Pacific.
Competing in her fifth Olympics and already tied with Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey as the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history with nine medals, Felix is attempting to become the most decorated track and field Olympian in U.S. history, male or female. She trails only Carl Lewis, who won a total of 10 Olympic medals in his storied career.
Felix grew up in Santa Clarita and attended L.A. Baptist High School in North Hills. The Tokyo Olympics are her first since giving birth to her daughter, Camryn, in 2018, and she has used her platform as an athlete to advocate for working mothers. She has announced she will retire from Olympic competition after the Tokyo Games.
In an interview with NBC in Tokyo earlier this week, Felix talked about her motivation to return to the Olympics for a fifth time, at age 35, after giving birth and then resuming her training, only to have her plans upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a lot to get here, so I am just enjoying the moment,” she said. “I just really want to represent for women, for moms, and just show that it can be done.”
And, she said, her little girl has given her the best kind of motivation.
“She was a huge driving force for me,” Felix told NBC. “I wanted to show her what it was like to overcome adversity.”
“I’m going to leave it all on the track,” she said, adding that, whatever the outcome, she’s making sure to soak up the Olympic experience one final time. “I want to embrace it all, take it all in.”