Allyson Felix takes bronze in her farewell race

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Never mind that she got passed at the end of her final sprint around the track. Or ended up with a bronze medal instead of gold.

For a memorable 15 seconds on Friday night at the world championships, Allyson Felix sprinted alone in the sun, zipping past the stands and well ahead of the field on the straight. Minutes later, she took her newly won prize and hung it around her 3-year-old daughter’s neck.

“I felt the love,” Felix said of his last run on the big stage. “And I felt joy running tonight.”

She is 36 now. So it wasn’t a huge shock that a rider 11 years her junior, Marileidy Paulino of the winning Dominican Republic team, finally brought her back. the following nine days of this meeting, finished third in the mixed 4×400 meters relay, also behind the Netherlands.

Third place still gave Felix her 19th world championship medal, extending a record she already held. Adding that to the 11 she has won at the Olympics, she will finish her career with an even score of 30 at the biggest events in her sport.

Some might say a bronze medal is a disappointment for the most decorated sprinter in United States history. Others, however, including Felix herself, liken it to the bronze medal she won in the women’s 400m last year at the Tokyo Olympics – a medal she considers one of his most precious triumphs.

“It’s a similar emotion,” she said. “The last two years I’ve been out of the clock and medals, and I never imagined this would be a place I would come to.”

The once shy teenager is now a strong advocate for women and mothers both in and out of sport. Much of that stems from her becoming a mom, then struggling and eventually leaving Nike, which cut her salary while she was pregnant.

Felix also had an emergency C-section eight weeks before her due date. She and her daughter, Cammy, fought for survival in a hospital room. Any run, let alone the medals that come with it, feels like a bonus at this point.

“There is not a single story that can explain the impact she had on the sport,” said Elijah Godwin, who raced the first leg and was the last teammate to hand over to Felix. “Over the years she’s done that, she’s become an icon, and for us to come out and compete with her, it’s a blessing to have that opportunity.”

Google entered the scene. A search of Felix’s name on Friday night brought up all of his identifying information, overlaid by the animation of him sprinting across the computer screen followed by the words “Olympian. Mother. Lawyer.”

It was all part of a fitting finale for Cammy’s mom, who Felix said was definitely out for some ice cream after the race, not waiting backstage for mom to finish the interviews.

Felix was only entered in the mixed relay after failing to qualify for the world championships in an individual race. When his name was announced at the start, the hall at two-thirds of the first world championships held in the United States cheered as loudly as all night.

Until she hits the straight line.

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Godwin had a slim lead when he passed the baton to him, and for the first 200 meters of his final lap, Felix widened the margin. Her arms pumped and her knees thumped high with that near-perfect form that can only belong to her. But she passed out after rounding her last curve and was caught by Paulino.

Her feelings as she crossed the line?

“The first thing I felt was lactic acid,” she said.

Vernon Norwood regained the lead in round three, but Dominican Fiordaliza Cofil passed American Kennedy Simon at anchor and then hurdler Femke Bol made a huge late charge to give the Netherlands silver. Down. The Dominican Republic won in 3 minutes, 9.82 seconds, by a margin of 0.08 seconds.

“I beat her twice,” said Paulino, who was second in the 400 in Tokyo. “But for me, she will always be the best in the world. She has paved a better path for all of us.”

The United States finished in 3:10.16. The stat sheet shows that Felix ran his last 400 meters in 50.15 seconds. It’s a far cry from the 47.72 seconds she ran in a gold medal-winning 4×400 at the world championships in 2015 – still the fastest ever by an American – but it wasn’t the aim.

“It’s like we’re part of the story,” Godwin said. “And having a picture with her is the most important thing to me. I just want my picture with her, and to be remembered for that.

Felix’s latest medal capped an opening day that also featured heats in the men’s 100m.

American Fred Kerley, an Olympic silver medalist last year, finished his race in 9.79 seconds – a lightning-fast time for a preliminary lap that was just 0.03 off his record for the season and 0.01 faster than Italian Marcel Jacobs’ victory last year in Tokyo.

All the other big names have advanced: Jacobs, Marvin Bracy, Olympic bronze medalist Andre De Grasse, 2011 world champion Yohan Blake and Christian Coleman, who is defending his world title after missing the Olympics due to a related suspension. missed doping tests.

The competition’s first medals came in the 20 kilometer walk, where Kimberly Garcia won Peru’s first-ever medal at the world championships in a time of 1:26:28. Toshikazu Yamanishi of Japan successfully defended his men’s title clocking 1:19.07.

But those are the last medals of the night that everyone at Hayward Field will remember.

Felix smiled broadly as World Athletics chairman Sebastian Coe hung the bronze around his neck and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, present for the presentation, shook his hand.

Félix stood tall as the national anthem of the Dominican Republic played. But she felt like the winner. His last run in the big time came in his home country, with his daughter there to watch.

“Obviously I’m not at the peak of my career, but to be able to finish here tonight, with Cammy in the stands, and share this moment with her, that means a lot,” Felix said.

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