EUGENE, OREGON — Allyson Felix, the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in the history of the sport, will not advance to 2022 World Championships in an individual event after finishing sixth Saturday in the 400-meter final at the USA Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field.
It’s likely that Felix, who ran in lane nine and turned in a time of 51.24 seconds, will be put on the U.S. relay team for the World Championships, which are set to start July 15 in Eugene. It is the first time the World Championships will be held on American soil.
Asked if she was disappointed to not be competing individually at the World Championships, Felix laughed and said, “Honestly, no. The 400 is hard for me, it’s not my natural passion. It’s always been something I’ve challenged myself with.”
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The 2022 season is the last for Felix, the phenom from Los Angeles whose career has lasted an astonishing 19 years. Felix will turn 37 in November. She said Friday after the 400 semifinal that she felt “a lot of gratitude” in her final tour, and joked that she was trying to have as much fun as possible in the 400, though her preferred race — “my baby,” as she calls it — is the 200.
The second-to-last stop of her goodbye tour was tainted, though, as it came at the same time as the Supreme Court was overturning Roe v. Wade, news that broke Friday morning before Felix ran in the semifinals. Felix, who has spent much of her career vocally advocating for women, their opportunities and equality, said of Roe that she “knew what was going on, obviously. I felt it all around me.”
“I think any time women’s rights get taken away, it’s a sad day,” said Felix, adding that she’d been thinking about “the sisterhood” a lot the last couple days. “I’ll always fight for women, always fight for them to have the ability to make their own decisions and that’s something I always stand behind.”
In a 2019 New York Times op-ed, Felix revealed that Nike, her longtime sponsor, had said it would pay her 70% less after she had a baby. Felix left Nike and has been running since under Athleta. She also started Saysh, a women’s shoe company. She promised that even after retiring, she’d still be around, though she joked that “I don’t have the coaching bug, you can thank (coach) Bobby (Kersee) for that.”
“More than anything, this season really showed me that I have no doubts about walking away,” Felix said. “There’s nothing that I have left to give. This season, for the first time, I felt like I didn’t have that fight in me, and that’s who I am. I knew when I felt that fading away, there was nothing to do but be grateful.”
Felix has been thinking about her next chapter, where she plans to focus on growing Saysh.
“That’s my primary role,” she said. “That and advocating for causes I’m passionate about.”
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