The Women's 200m Finals will take place later tonight. Personally, this is one of the events I have been looking most forward to going into these Olympics, and it's no coincidence that my favorite athlete is coming in as the favorite in the event.
Recently, while I was probably supposed to be working or something, I stared into space and began reminiscing on why exactly Allyson Felix is my favorite Olympic athlete when it occurred to me that if more people knew the story, more people would care about this event. God knows the slap dicks that produce American track television, from all accounts, haven't even watched the sport to care enough about story lines like this. Instead track gets treated like some athletic version of 60 minutes instead of a sporting event. /rant over
In 2004, a fresh out of high school Allyson Felix finishes 2nd in the Olympics at 200m.
In 2005, there was no championship meet in international track. For some reason they take every 4th year off. It's dumb.
In 2006 Allyson gets her second chance and wins her first World Championship at 200m. Note that Sanya Richards finished a close 2nd.
The next year things got interesting. Sanya, outside of the finals at championship meets, was widely considered the best 400m runner in the world at the time. (As a side note she just won her first Olympic gold in the event this year, Congrats!) But she wasn't satisfied just being the best at 400m, she needed more. She petitioned the IAAF (the people who control these things) to keep in mind that she planned to double in the 200m and 400m at their championship meet. She wanted them to give her as much rest as possible in between the two events so that she could become one of the only women to ever win a world title in both.
Below is a conversation that I'm sure actually happened at some point.
Listen up world. I am going to win the 400 AND the 200 meters at the same meet because ALL YOUR LONG SPRINTS ARE BELONG TO ME!
Ummm, you know I'm the defending champion at 200m right? What am I, chopped liver?
More like chopped LOSER! Just make sure you're off the tracks when the Sanya train is coming through!
Riiiight. You know the only reason you're the best 400m runner in the world is because I don't give a shit enough to run that event, right?
All right bitch. We have a couple months before the championships. One order of humble pie coming up.
Best 400m runner in the world my ass. Oh, and about that 200m World Championship.
And now, just for shits and giggles, I'm going to also run one of the greatest 4x400 legs ever, just to remind you that I'm also a lot better than you at YOUR event.
*Editors note. It makes me want to spit and curse, but this is the best video of this race I could fine. It's a shame too because she was awesome. She runs 2nd leg. All you can see on the video is her getting the stick in about 4th place and then it just skips to her handing off with a massive lead. I think I have a better copy somewhere stashed away. I'll edit this if I find it.
Since the great smackdown of 2007, these two have been competitive with each other. Sanya has beaten her in a few head to head 400s, but never on a relay split that I'm aware of. As for tonight's 200m, guess who the top two times in the world belong to?
There's also the subplot of Allyson not wanting to be the greatest sprinter of all time to never win individual gold. She was derailed by either injury or a totally collapse of running technique in 2008 (she was sporting a pronounced limp on her way to 2nd place again).