American short-distance runner Allyson Felix may be one of the best athletes in the world. And she’s only 22.
And again on Friday, she did something most athletes never do. She got her college degree.
The L.A. TIMES delivers a nice profile of a young woman who turned down a track scholarship so she could go pro and pay for school on her own:
Felix would work out before dawn, attend class until midafternoon, train until dark and then do homework. She would fly home from a track meet in Japan or Europe or Qatar, jet-lagged and sore, and settle in to finish a paper. Through all the aches and pains, the exhaustion, Felix was determined to keep a promise she made to herself and her family. “I was getting my college degree from USC,” she said. “No matter what.”
In the intense heat Friday, Felix was proud to receive that degree and it was so important a moment that her coach, Bob Kersee, gave her the day off from training. “Bobby doesn’t do that very often,” Paul Felix said. “So good for her.”
With college out of the way, Felix should have time to commit to her other goals:
She and Kersee are united in one goal — for her to win four medals in Beijing (counting two relays).
The idea that she might go for the 200-400 double was considered but the Olympic schedule makes that tough. So Felix said she would try the 100-200 double, even though Kersee dangled the possibility that Felix still might opt for the 200-400 parlay.
“Honestly, the jury is still out on what she’s going to do,” Kersee said. “I’m a pretty good negotiator. The 200 is her favorite, everything else will rally around the 200.”
After running in the Mt. San Antonio College relays three weeks ago, Felix said there was no firm decision.
“The 200-400 double is not possible,” she said. “I’m going to run the 100 and 200 at the Olympic trials and go from there.”
The U.S. trials will be held June 27 through July 6 at the University of Oregon.
Oh, by the way, Felix won the silver in the 200 in Athens in 2004. There may be an obvious bias toward swimmers and figure skaters over track athletes. Hopefully Felix and her story will get some more good press as she prepares to win Olympic gold this summer.