ROME — As the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympics history, not a day goes by that Allyson Felix is not remembered about her long list of accomplishments.
Introduce her by mentioning that huge haul of 11 Olympic medals and the 18 gold (mostly), silver and bronze that make her the most decorated female or male competitor in championship history. of the athletics world, and she’s hardly fazed.
Add to that her world indoor title for a cool 30 career medals after two decades at the top of her sport, and she still won’t bat an eyelid.
But let another competitor describe the impact the American 200 and 400 meter runner has had on both the athletics and the defense of female athletes, and that catches Felix’s eye.
“She’s been an absolute legend,” Britain’s world champion Dina Asher-Smith said at a press conference ahead of today’s Golden Gala Pietro Mennea, which will mark the final Diamond League meeting of the career of Felix, 36.
With Felix seated two seats away from her, Asher-Smith – who is ten years younger than Felix – went on to describe the “grace” and “dignity” of the American and the effect of seeing Felix up close when was a young volunteer. retrieving warm-up suits thrown by athletes off the track at the London 2012 Olympics when Felix won three gold medals.
“I’ve been a huge fan for years and years and years,” Asher-Smith said. “The first time I raced Allyson in 2015, I remember thinking, ‘I’m a pro athlete now because I’m in a race with Allyson.’https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022 /jun/09 /felix-humbled-by-praise-for-his-athleticism/”
Asked about Asher-Smith’s comments later, Felix told The Associated Press they made her “feel old.”
“But Dina is so nice. I just feel humbled listening to this,” Felix added. “And I remember when I was in that position. And it doesn’t seem like that long ago, but it is. And it’s really special to hear words like that. And now I know that the sport is in very good hands, so I’m delighted to see them continue to take it to new levels.”
Felix, who announced in April that this will be her final season, is enjoying one final tour of Europe before heading into her final major competitions – the US Trials later this month and then (if she qualifies) the world championships in July. .
The US Trials and World Championships will be contested at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. This is the first time that the world championships will take place on American soil.
“It’s something that you hope can help the sport and that people can pay attention to and realize this amazing thing that happens between the Olympics,” Felix said. “So I really hope people take this opportunity to come out and watch.”
Felix does not yet know which events she will try to qualify for in practice. But she said she would be happy to participate in a mixed relay if that’s what it’s all about.
“Honestly, I don’t even need a single race,” Felix said. “I tried not to make it my goal for the year, but obviously a mixed relay would be really fun. I’m just trying to be on top of my game so I can help out if the team needs me. “
In the meantime, Felix will face stiff competition in the 200 at the Stadio Olimpico.
Besides Asher-Smith, Elaine Thompson-Herah, the Jamaican who won the 100 and 200 titles at the last two Olympics, and Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas, who won the 400 at two consecutive Olympics, are also registered.
As accomplished as Thompson-Herah and Miller-Uibo are, Felix remains on another level for Asher-Smith — in part because of her advocacy for women’s rights. When Felix’s daughter, Camryn, was born in 2018, Felix cut ties with Nike because she was upset with how the company treated pregnant athletes.
This eventually led to a change: Nike later announced that it planned to modify contracts so that female athletes would not be penalized for childbirth.
“She’s done so much for us, so much for our sport,” Asher-Smith said. “A lot of us have her to thank for that.”
Félix will continue his fight in retirement.
“I feel like the track really led me to that goal,” she said. “So just because I’m ending my career on the track, it’s not the end of (these battles). I’m going to push for equality on all fronts.”