Allyson Felix competes to a first place finish in the 150 meter dash during the Weltklasse Zurich Inspiration Games amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on July 09, 2020 in Walnut, California.
It perhaps wasn’t the race Allyson Felix had intended on running in July 2020. Nonetheless, the U.S. sprinter crossed the finish line first to win the women’s 150-meter in Thursday’s Inspiration Games, an ambitious virtual competition that replaced the Diamond League stop in Zurich, Switzerland.
Felix, running in Walnut, California, crossed the finish line in 16.81 seconds, edging Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas and Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland. Miller-Uibo was competing from Bradenton, Florida, and Kambundji from Zurich.
Each raced at the same time in their respective locations, and broadcasters combined the videos of each athlete onto a single screen.
Felix later joined two-time Olympic gold medalist Tianna Bartoletta and Candace Hill in winning the women’s 3x100, posting a time of 32.25. The second-place Swiss team was a quarter-second back.
Under normal circumstances, Felix would have likely been spending this week in final preparations for her fifth Olympic Games. With the Tokyo Games, originally set to begin July 24, now postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Felix instead was one of nine U.S. athletes taking part in the Inspiration Games, where athletes competed in eight events from seven venues around the world.
In addition to Bradenton, Walnut and Zurich, athletes competed in France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
The competition followed last month’s Impossible Games, which featured a limited number of athletes and fans in Oslo, Norway, in addition to some athletes competing virtually. The Diamond League is scheduled to return in August.
Felix, whose nine Olympic medals ties her for the most among women in the sport, is aiming to make her first Olympics as a mom in Tokyo.
In the Inspiration Games’ other marquee event, fellow American Noah Lyles posted a time of 18.90 seconds in the men’s 200-meter — a result that would have lowered Usain Bolt’s word record by .28 seconds. Alas, upon further review it was determined the defending world champ actually ran 185 meters on the Bradenton track.
“You can’t be playing with my emotions like this….,” Lyles tweeted after, “got me in the wrong lane smh.”
France’s Christophe Lemaitre posted the fastest time across the full 200 meters, running it in 20.65 seconds.
Five other Americans took part in the Inspiration Games, with three winning their events.
Two-time defending world champ Sam Kendricks and Sandi Morris won the pole vault competitions. Kendricks, who also won an Olympic bronze medal in 2016, cleared 5.81 meters from Bradenton, holding off world bronze medalist Piotr Lisek of Poland. Meanwhile, Morris, who finished second at the 2016 Olympics and the previous two world championships, won the women’s event with a jump of 4.66 meters, also from Bradenton. Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson was second.
In her first race since February 2019, Georganne Moline, a 2012 Olympian competing in Walnut, won the women’s 300-meter hurdles in 39.08 seconds, holding off Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger and two-time world champ Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic.
In the only event with two Americans, two-time Olympic champ Christian Taylor finished second and Omar Craddock third in the men’s triple jump. Portugal’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo won with a best jump of 17.40 meters. Taylor was in Bradenton and Craddock in Walnut.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.