RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - In the end, Allyson Felix went with the world championship event that presented her with the biggest challenge.
Eligible to compete in either the 200 meters, the 400 meters or both in Beijing, the American sprinter chose the longer event and two relays.
“She loves the 200,” her coach, Bob Kersee, told Reuters in a telephone interview. “But with all due respect to everybody else, in the 200 she has won on center stage in both the world championship and the Olympic Games.”
Felix won the world title over the half-lap in 2005, 2007 and 2009 and is the reigning Olympic champion after her London triumph.
The 29-year-old’s only global medal in the 400, however, is the silver she won at the 2011 world championships in Daegu, where she did attempt the 200-400 double and also took home a bronze from the 200 and two golds from the relays.
“So I think at this stage,” Kersee said, stressing the words were his not Felix‘s.
“If I am going to try something different, and put a little bit of athletic pressure on myself, moving up to the 400 will be the bigger challenge versus saying I got everything to win or everything to lose by running the 200.”
The coach floated the idea of a 200-400 double in Beijing but Felix eventually decided against it because a crushing schedule leaves only an hour between the 200 semi-final and the 400 final.
But there is no doubt about her target for next year’s Rio Olympics.
“I would love to run the double,” Felix, who has won 17 global medals since turning professional as a California teenager in 2003, told reporters in Lausanne this summer.
“So I would hope that, moving forward, that the Olympic schedule would reflect that.”
It does not at the moment, with the 400 final just 75 minutes after the first round of the 200.
“To me, it’s really disappointing because there are so many people who can do a 200-400 double, and I think that we should be allowed to attempt it,” said Felix.
Kersee is even more vocal in his opinion that the scheduling is an error by the IAAF and Olympic officials.
“If they look back at past history, they should ask themselves why are we denying somebody to do the two and the four that we allowed to happen before?” the coach said, referring to double victories by American Michael Johnson and France’s Marie-José Pérec at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
“I hope if they are stupid enough to make a mistake, they are smart enough to make a correction.”
Editing by Nick Mulvenney and Greg Stutchbury