Allyson Felix reacts after winning bronze in the 4x400-meter mixed relay final at the 2022 World Athletics Championships on July 15, 2022 in Eugene, Ore.
For one last time, Team USA fans got to see Allyson Felix flying down a world championships track as the rest of the field struggled to catch up.
Felix’s strong second leg wasn’t enough for the U.S. mixed 4x400-meter team to take gold as the 2022 World Athletics Championships got underway Friday night in Eugene, Oregon, but the team’s bronze medal gave the most decorated woman in track and field history 19 total medals at the world championships. The 36-year-old, who also owns 11 Olympic medals, plans to retire following one more race next month in her hometown of Los Angeles.
Felix helped the U.S. win the gold medal in the world championships debut of the mixed 4x400 three years ago in Qatar. The U.S. took bronze at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with two members of the team who also competed Friday in Eugene, Elija Godwin and Vernon Norwood. Kennedy Simon rounded out the U.S. team on Friday.
Taking the baton from Godwin, who ran the best first leg in the field, Felix raced out to a big advantage before ultimately being run down on the final stretch by Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic, the Tokyo silver medalist. Norwood then put down the best time in the third leg to set up Simon for the anchor. Simon held the lead for most of the lap only for Fiordaliza Cofil of the Dominican Republic and Femke Bol of the Netherlands to catch her and push the U.S. to third.
On the first night of the first track & field world championships to be held on U.S. soil, the star of the day was undoubtedly Felix. The excitement for her final race extended well beyond the track and field community, as anyone searching her name on Google Friday was treated to a graphic of her running across the screen, followed by the words, “Olympian. Mother. Advocate. Congrats on 20 Unstoppable Years!”
Felix burst onto the international stage shortly after graduating from high school in 2003, after which she turned pro. One year later she made her Olympic debut and promptly picked up her first Olympic medal, a silver in the 200. She added her first world title the next year in the same event. Felix began racking up world titles and earning Olympic gold medals at a record pace.
Felix suffered a disappointing silver-medal finish in the 200 in Olympic Games Beijing 2008 before winning her long-awaited individual Olympic gold in the event at the Olympic Games London 2012, one of her best-remembered comebacks in a career full of them. While the numbers of her career are staggering, it’s her perseverance through so many setbacks that earned her fans around the world.
The high of Olympic gold was followed by a devastating injury at the 2013 world championships, sidelining her until the next year. A 2016 injury threatened her status for that year’s Olympic Games, but she rebounded to make the team and claim two more relay gold medals and an individual silver in the 400.
Perhaps her biggest challenge came with her 2018 pregnancy and birth of her daughter Camryn. Felix suffered life-threatening complications that necessitated an emergency C-section at 32 weeks. But not only did mother and baby turn out healthy, Felix was back on the track in eight months.
And in the aftermath of that, Felix became an advocate for women who are both athletes and mothers. She then capped her Olympic career with another gold medal in the women’s 4x400, becoming the oldest U.S. woman to win an Olympic track medal. She also won individual bronze in the 400.