Allyson Felix profile


Felix still trying to catch her 22
By Matthew Kredell, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 05/20/2007 01:44:09 AM PDT

Allyson Felix has accomplished much in the four years since she graduated from high school.
The 21-year-old has become the pure and unblemished young face of USA sprinting, as track and field tries to move past the steroid controversy that cut down many of its brightest stars.

At an age when most people - even a budding track standout - would be completing college and preparing for a professional career, she already has an Olympic silver medal and a world title in the 200 meters to her credit.

Perhaps the most surprising part of her success is that her best was done in high school.

Despite all of her professional accolades, Felix is still trying to eclipse the time of 22.11 seconds she ran as a 17-year-old senior at L.A. Baptist. She equaled the time at the World Athletics Final last September.

“I feel like I’ve been stuck around that time for a while now,” said Felix, who will run today in the adidas Track Classic at Home Depot Center. “I’m hoping this year will be kind of a breakout year where I dip under 22.”

In early May 2003, Felix posted the 22.11 at a professional meet in Mexico City just before she began the prep track postseason.

Sprint coach Jonathan Patton, who


discovered and nurtured Felix’s talent, had planned her season around peaking for the key midseason high school meets - the Arcadia and Mt.SAC invitationals.
When she blew away the field at Arcadia while running a 22.97, he inquired about putting her in the professional heat at Mt. SAC. The result was a 22.51 that broke Marion Jones’ U.S.junior record.

After that, he took her to Mexico City to see what she could do with one more race against professionals.

The winning time placed her as the 10th-fastest woman in U.S. history. It was originally considered a world junior record, but wasn’t ratified because the host event failed to drug test her after the race.

The altitude of Mexico City might have aided the time slightly, but doesn’t disqualify the mark.

Felix has run the same meet, the Banamex Grand Prix, since she turned professional and has not approached the time.

“High school may be easier for a young athlete because there is so much structure,” Patton said. “Someone is driving you to school, making you lunch, washing your clothes. It’s a unique time in life where you can be focused on one thing without having to worry about everything that goes on in the adult world, especially the adult track and field world.”

Felix’s current coach, Bob Kersee, thinks she would have set a personal best last year if not for an injured hamstring that set her back early in the season.

She’s not likely to challenge the mark today, in her first 200 of the season, but Kersee said he thinks that - health-willing - she will break 22 seconds by the end of July.

One of the strongest finishers among short sprinters, Felix still has plenty of room to improve her starts. Kersee said they are going to begin really delving into getting out of the blocks quicker in the next few months.

“If she went to college, this would be her first year out,” Kersee said. “So, age-wise, she’s just starting to mature as a sprinter.”

To be clear, Felix is going to college - she’s just not competing at that level.

Felix committed to USC before signing a lucrative and groundbreaking contract with adidas, which made her the first athlete in the sport to jump from high school to the professional ranks.

“It’s definitely gone by so fast,” Felix said of her transformation from prep phenom to world elite. "It’s weird to still be young but have been on the scene a while.

“I feel a lot more comfortable now. I feel somewhat like a veteran.”