Allyson Felix reacts after winning gold in the women's 4x400-meter relay final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 7, 2021 in Tokyo.
Allyson Felix returned to track and field for one last ride in 2022, and that begins in earnest Thursday when the seven-time Olympic champ takes to the blocks for her signature event at the Diamond League stop in Rome.
Already the most decorated woman in track and field history, Felix decided to come back for one more season to hopefully end her career on home soil in July when the world championships are held in Eugene, Oregon. That will mark the first time in the event’s nearly five-decade history that it’s held in the United States.
Felix, now 36, began her outdoor season in April and has raced four times so far in 2022, all in smaller competitions. Her season debut on the prestigious Diamond League circuit this week, where she’ll run the 200-meter, marks the beginning of the ramp up to the world championships.
The Los Angeles native has come a long way since her Olympic debut as a shy teenager in 2004. As she embarks on the final few weeks of her storied career, here are five things to know.
Thursday Won’t Be A Cakewalk
Felix comes to Rome as an Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion in the 200. That’s not to say she’s the favorite. Among the seven other women in the field, four were in the Olympic 200-meter final last year in Tokyo, including Jamaica’s all-timer Elaine Thompson-Herah, who won both the 100- and 200-meter gold medals in each of the last two Olympics. Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is the two-time reigning Olympic champ in the 400. And don’t forget Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith. The reigning 200-meter world champion from 2019 had been right among the best in the world last year but was forced to pull out of the Olympic 200 due to injury. So, expect a competitive race.
Trust The Process
Winning on Thursday would be great, of course. In the world of track and field, it’s not essential. Athletes are playing the long game, with everything building up to the championship meets to come later in the summer. For Felix, the key upcoming event is the USATF Outdoor Championships that take place June 23-26 in Eugene, Oregon. Besides being an opportunity for her to add to her six U.S. titles, this year’s meet also crucially serves as the qualifier for the world championships, which take place three weeks later on the same Hayward Field track. The top three individuals in each event move on to compete individually at worlds, while other top finishers will qualify as part of the relay pool.