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Allyson Felix reflects on the footprints she leaves on track

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EUGENE, Ore. — Before crossing the finish line for the very last time in a career that made her America’s most decorated sprinter, Allyson Felix was interested in something much more leisurely — a leisurely stroll. in the past.

She thought back to when she was a timid 17-year-old sprinting prodigy, with Olympic glory and world championships still a hopeful sight.

She wondered: Would teenager Allyson have imagined that by the time she turned 36 and was preparing for her very last race at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon, she would have accomplished so much – inside and out of its way?

Félix certainly found his speed on the track and, later, his voice away from it. She’s played in major stadiums all over the world — 29 Olympic and world championship medals – and watched Nike on pregnancy issues during her journey to becoming an advocate for women’s rights.

Friday, after a mixed 4×400 relay, Félix will bid farewell to the track scene. She might even remove it Saysh shoes – his new venture – and let them on the trail.

A final symbolic gesture to bring home an unmistakable message: she left a powerful mark.

“I’m super proud of everything that happened on the track,” Felix said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But I think my biggest accomplishments are the things that didn’t necessarily get a medal.”

Soon, Félix will only be a mother. Not a sprinter. Not a sprinter-slash-mom. Just mom. She likes the sound of it.

She looks forward to a much slower pace. As taking her daughter, Camryn, who turns 4 on November 28at soccer practice.

“Excited for all the normal things – things that may seem boring to some,” said Felix, who is from California. “I’ve grown so much since that teenager who started out and was so shy. I never imagined this: running in my thirties. It would have felt ancient at 17.

Since turning pro out of high school, she has focused on training and racing. I was just trying to squeeze a little more speed out of his lanky body, earning him the playful nickname “Chicken Legs.” She won gold in her signature event, the 200 meters, at the London 2012 Games – one of her 11 Olympic medals. She’s also won a lot of material as part of relay teams and is favored to help drive home another Friday (she didn’t qualify in an individual event).

“There’s nothing quite like standing on the line and knowing you’re going to find out who’s fastest that day,” Felix said.

Without a doubt, she’s in GOAT territory – the best of all time. Right up there with royalty like Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, Jesse Owens, Michael Johnson, the late Florence Griffith Joyner and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

“Her connection to the sport transcends being a fast runner,” said Joyner-Kerseethe Hall of Famer whose husband, Bobby Kersee, was a Felix’s long-time coach. “His presence on the field will be missed. But his heart and soul will always be tied to the sport. It will never be lost or forgotten.

What Felix won’t miss is easy: Coach Kersee’s intense training sessions. The other day, he put her through one last grueling workout.

It included a total sprint of 500 meters. Felix collapsed from exhaustion at the end.

“I don’t care about anything that forces you to cross the starting line,” Félix said.

New starting line: His voice.

She always had the platform, but was reluctant to use it for most of her career. She didn’t want to ruffle the feathers.

“I just felt like, ‘Head down. This (track) is what I’m supposed to do,’ Felix said.

Not anymore. Not since a complicated pregnancy, when she had to deal with preeclampsia and underwent an emergency C-section to deliver Camryn.

Her contract with Nike expired in December 2017. She explained in a New York Times op-ed a few years ago that Nike wanted to pay her 70% less. Although she was willing to accept a reduction, she wanted assurances regarding maternity. It was refused.

She followed runners like Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher in talking about the need for sponsors to support female competitors before, during and after pregnancy – that contracts shouldn’t penalize someone for starting a family. Ultimately, the position led to change. Nike later announced that it planned to change contracts so that female athletes would not be penalized for having babies.

Felix counts this as one of his biggest wins. She also spoke on Capitol Hill about overcoming racial gaps in the maternal mortality crisis.

“It’s something where lives could be changed and affected,” Felix said. “It was really important to me.”

Same with this – start the shoe business Saysh, which was created for women. In Tokyo, she won a bronze medal in the 400m while wearing spikes she was considering.

This bronze, for all it symbolized, meant as much to her as gold.

“It was really more important than the medal or the time or anything,” she said. “It was actually a huge accomplishment for me to get to this (the Olympics) and to be able to talk to so many people who said they saw themselves in me.”

She certainly inspired the next generation.

“There’s no one like her,” said 24-year-old sprinter Kaylin Whitney, part of the women’s 4×400 relay group. “She’s been in the sport for so long, and I haven’t heard a single negative thing about her yet. You never will. She’s just that kind of person who does anything and everything for the sport.

The reason for her retirement is simple: she’s 36 now and just didn’t have the same fire (or speed) with the finish line in sight.

“To be at the top, you have to have that hunger,” Felix said.

That hunger is now elsewhere: with the growth of his business. To be a champion of women’s rights. With raising Camryn.

Félix recently took a photo with his daughter. She wore it racing outfit and Camryn a shirt by the way. It just reads: “My mother is faster than your mother.”