Felix makes history at her second home
American Allyson Felix becomes the top gold medal winner in World Championships history at one of her favourite venues.
Though 12 athletes, at the peak of their prowess, sat on the Press conference stage, everyone’s eyes and questions were directed at the oldest of them – 34-year-old Allyson Felix.
The American took centre stage after winning her 12th gold medal, the most by any athlete in the history of World Championships. Before Sunday’s triumph in the 4x400M mixed relay she was on par with Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt on the gold count. Her previous gold medals had come in four different events – 200M, 400M, 4x100M and 4x 400M.
Felix, with a total tally of 17 medals, is also the overall topper in individual medal haul, ahead of Bolt and former Jamaican veteran Merlene Ottey (14 each).
Felix achieved the feat in her typically dominant style, guiding her much younger teammates Wilbert London, Courtney Okolo and Michael Cherry to gold, that too in a world record time of 3min 9.34sec.
That she achieved the record in Doha only made it more special.
“Everyone knows I love Doha and love coming back here. I competed here for 15 years in a row, at the IAAF Grand Prix, Super Grand Prix and Diamond League races. Doha holds a special place in my heart, and I’m glad I achieved this unique record here. I couldn’t have done it at a better place,” she told Inside Qatar.
Felix had been away from active competitions for more than a year following a complicated pregnancy and delivery of her daughter Camryn. She said personal achievements were far from her mind during the race.
“While it’s nice to have the record, I didn’t come here thinking of bettering it. I went through a lot of personal battles last year, and things were difficult. So my mindset in Doha was different. It’s always nice to make a bit of history, but it wasn’t the only thing on my mind,” she said.
Most of the teams, except Poland, opted for the man-woman-woman-man combination. The Poles opted to field both their male runners in the first two legs and as such Felix had to contend with Rafal Omelka in the second leg. This seemed to have motivated Felix more as she ran a brilliant lap and in the end it was an easy win for the Americans while the Poles finished a poor fifth.
Felix said she enjoyed the experience immensely.
“It was a different kind of race, and there was a lot of excitement. It was much more strategic, and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it,” she said.
The lithe American had become the face of gender equality battle in athletics after Nike cut her sponsorship following pregnancy. Though she parted ways with them, her campaign for more protection for pregnant athletes subsequently forced the company to change its stance.