LONDON — Sprinter Allyson Felix knows she is considered “this very nice girl” who never causes trouble and was expected to defuse a controversy by conceding her Olympic berth in the 100-meter dash to training partner Jeneba Tarmoh after they tied for third at the U.S. trials. Felix had a spot in the 200. Tarmoh didn’t. Bowing out of the 100 seemed an obvious move for Felix, twice an Olympic silver medalist in the 200.
But Felix didn’t give up her spot and was prepared to compete in a run-off until Tarmoh withdrew. For once Felix was willing to create ripples, a decision she explained as central to the plan she devised with her coach, Bobby Kersee, and a debt she owes those who have supported her ambitions since she was a phenom at Los Angeles Baptist High.
“This is the Olympics. This is not something that I started last year. It’s not an easy thing,” she said during a news conference Tuesday. “I remember when I first came to Bobby almost eight years ago; we sat down in a Coco’s restaurant and he asked me what did I want to accomplish. And I told him at the Olympics I wanted to run the 100, the 200, the 4x100 and the 4x400.
“At the time he was like, ‘You know, that’s a lot, but I think that we can do it.’ And it was right then that we started training for it. And through that process from there to now, there’s been tons of ups and downs, just heartbreaks and everything along the way.”
Although Felix acknowledged “the odds are definitely against me” in the 100, keeping her spot was her way to thank those behind her.
“It’s not about me,” she said. “It’s about Bobby and the time that he invested in me. It’s about my parents and the sacrifices they made and my brother and the agents that are working with me and everyone who’s invested their time in me.”
Felix said she remains close to Tarmoh, who is a member of the U.S. relay pool. “Anyone who has been around us can tell you that Jeneba and I are together all of the time. I think that speaks for itself,” Felix said.
The first round of the women’s 100 will take place on Friday, the opening day of track and field events.
Jason Richardson, the world champion in the 110-meter hurdles, and U.S. trials runner-up, said it will probably take a world record to win his event. Richardson, who trains in Los Angeles, said he’s comfortable not being the favorite but added, “My mom thinks I’m going to win."… U.S. women’s coach Amy Deem and men’s coach Andrew Valmon said they will wait until after the 100 to compose their lineups for the first round of the relays to make sure everyone is fit…. Valmon said the dominance of Jamaican sprinters at Beijing has inspired U.S. athletes to respond here. “I think it was a good wake-up call for us to have because now we’re going to be focusing and we’re going to stay alert,” he said.