Allyson Felix wins the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.40. Photo by Rick Bowmer / Associated Press
EUGENE, Ore. — Head so still her ponytail barely bobbed, arms swinging in perfect sync, Allyson Felix, from Los Angeles, glided smoothly around the track, looking as if she has been running the 400 all her life.
The big question: Will she run it at the world championships later this summer?
Felix already has a spot in the 200 at the worlds thanks to her 2009 title, but remains uncertain about whether she also will attempt to run the longer distance, where she would go in as America’s newly crowned champion.
She held off Francena McCorory at the finish Saturday at U.S. championships, winning in 50.40 seconds to become the first woman to win national titles in the 100, 200, and 400 over a career. Debbie Dunn was third.
“I felt good throughout and I feel like I’m learning a lot, how my body feels throughout,” Felix said.?
The 200-400 double is not easy to pull off given all the rounds and the lack of recovery time between them.
That’s why the decision for Daegu, South Korea, in late August remains a difficult one for Felix and her coach, Bobby Kersee.
“That’s my biggest thing, the thing that makes it tough for me to decide,” Felix said of the quick turnaround. “I’m not going to be as fresh going into the 200. That’s the big deciding factor.”
Especially since that’s her signature event. She doesn’t want fatigue to derail her shot at winning a fourth straight 200 title at worlds.?
Kersee said he will put Felix through some practices this week, see how she reacts, then make a decision. He was very impressed with how she looked, especially coming down the homestretch of the 400. Even some of the best runners start flailing a bit at the end of the one-lap race. Felix barely looked like she was breathing hard.
“I don’t want to be cocky, but I really think she’s one of the best 400-meter runners in the world,” Kersee said. “She’ll kill me if I take the 200 away from her, so it’s going to be easier to tell her she can’t run the 400.”
Going double the distance she normally runs, and fighting a strong wind in the back stretch, Felix seemed to get stronger as the race went along Saturday.
That’s an encouraging sign.
While she’s up in the air about going for the 200 and 400 at worlds, one of her top rivals has already pledged to try to do it.
Sanya Richards-Ross has an automatic bid in the 400, but needs to qualify in the 200. She advanced to the semis with a solid race at the shorter distance Saturday.
“I felt good. But I have to run faster than I did today to make the team,” Richards-Ross said. “I’m up for the challenge.”
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