She bounded into Sacramento 10 years ago, an 18-year-old phenom sprinter representing the future of American track and field.
Allyson Felix dazzled at the 2004 Olympic Trials at Sacramento State and followed by winning a silver medal in the 200 meters in the Athens Games, setting a World Junior record of 22.18 seconds. Now she’s back, ready to run the 100 meters but not her more familiar 200, in the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships at Hornet Stadium. The prelims are today with the finals Friday. It’s the same Felix, albeit a bit older.
“I’m ancient now,” Felix said, laughing that at 28 she’s considered a relic. “In 2004, I was still learning the sport, still growing. I was so young. It’s gone by so fast.”
Fast is a theme for Felix, who has become one of the most accomplished women sprinters in track history. She has lifetime bests of 10.89 in the 100, 21.69 in the 200 and 49.59 in the 400. She has won four Olympic gold medals and a record eight golds in World Championships competition. The starting block was in Sacramento in 2004, when Felix won her first U.S. 200-meter title in 22.38. Felix was slowed last year by a hamstring injury, and she views the 100 this week as more “sprint work than anything” as she readies for more World Championships and Olympics. Felix initially entered this week’s USA meet in the 400, then switched to the 100 on Wednesday.
“I have some catching up to do,” said Felix, who has run just two 200s this year. “It’s coming along slowly. I’m trying to be patient, and that’s not easy. When I got hurt, it was definitely scary. I was so disappointed. I still feel like I have a lot to give.”
Felix said she will have family at the meet, including an aunt who lives in Elk Grove. And yes, she’s still anxious before meets.
“Oh, I still get nervous,”Felix said with a smile. “It’s good to have nerves.”
Inspirational run – Aaron Braun enters today’s 10,000 meters knowing the competition will be fierce, especially if former Oregon Ducks star Galen Rupp competes. Rupp, the five-time USA champion and American record-holder, is on baby watch as his wife, Keara, is due to give birth to twins any hour.
Rupp, if he runs, is the favorite, as he broke his own U.S. mark in last month’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., in 26 minutes, 44.36 seconds. Ryan Vail is also a contender, with a best of 27:44.05. Braun has a best of 27.41.54. What adds to tonight’s final is the presence of Billy Mills, the 10,000-meter gold medalist at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Mills will be on hand as part of the Billy Mills 10K run, in which fans can participate before heading to Hornet Stadium.
“Billy Mills is a distance-running icon and the only gold medalist (America has) had in that race,” Braun said. “He’s a guy to idolize. To have him there is exciting and extra motivation.”
Record leaps? – Will Claye, who medaled in both the triple and long jump at the 2012 London Olympics, predicts someone, and possibly soon, will again triple jump 60 feet. Claye won silver in the triple jump and the bronze in the long jump to become the first to medal in both events at the same Games since Naoto Tajima of Japan in 1936. Jonathan Edwards set the world record in the triple jump at 60 feet, 1/4-inch in 1995.
“I feel like 60 can happen and that God put that in me,” said Claye, whose bests jumps are in the 57-foot range. “One day, it will come.”
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.