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What you need to know now, from the worldwide Five-Ring Circus:
≡ SPOTLIGHT ≡
“As a little girl they called chicken legs, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I’d have a career like this. I have so much gratitude for this sport that has changed my life. I have given everything I have to running and for the first time I’m not sure if I have anything left to give. I want to say goodbye and thank you to the sport and people who have helped shape me the only way I know how—with one last run. This season isn’t about the time on the clock, it’s simply about joy. If you see me on the track this year I hope to share a moment, a memory and my appreciation with you.
“This season I’m running for women. I’m running for a better future for my daughter. I’m running for you. More to come on that, so stay tuned, but I’ll be sharing a series of announcements that I’m hoping will make the world better for women.
“Here’s to my final season.”
Wednesday’s Instagram post by American sprint superstar Allyson Felix was not expected, but was not a surprise. But it will allow fans and casual followers to follow her a little more carefully during 2022 as she tries to make yet another U.S. and compete at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene in July.
Felix was a sensation from an early age, but exploded into worldwide consciousness in 2003 as a high school senior at L.A. Baptist, running an altitude-aided 22.11 in Mexico City in the 200 m and then not only making the U.S. Olympic Team in 2004, but winning the 200 m silver medal in Athens.
She also showed her independence by skipping college altogether and becoming a professional, signing an endorsement deal with adidas that allowed her to get a degree in elementary education at the University of Southern California while maximizing her athletic potential.
Although she attended USC and has participated in promotional programs for the Trojans, she trained almost her entire career at UCLA’s Drake Stadium and was coached professionally by ex-UCLA head coaches Pat Connolly (through 2004) and then Bobby Kersee.
Her career on the track was nothing short of iconic. She was one of the world’s dominant sprinters from 2004-17, primarily in the 200 and 400 m, winning 200 m world titles in 2005-07-09 and the 400 m in 2015. She won seven Olympic golds in the 200 m (2012) and on U.S. teams in the 4×100 m (2012-16) and 4×400 m (2008-12-16-20), and 11 total Olympic medals, the most ever for a female track & field athlete.
Her 18 total World Championships medals (13-3-2) are the most by anyone.
Her lifetime bests are outstanding, but she is only in the all-time top-10 in the 200 m (no. 7). She has run 10.89 for the 100 m (2012), 21.69 for 200 m (2012) and 49.26 for 400 m (2015).
But everywhere she ran, she always exuded a calm, confident, low-key demeanor that covered a steely determination to compete at the highest level. She won often, always crediting her competitors and her coaching, and when she lost, always congratulated the winners and expressing satisfaction for having done her best.
Felix was, and is, overwhelmingly charming and gracious, a true role model in behavior, temperament and demeanor.
But when Felix wanted to make her feelings known, she was a devastating proponent, especially on issues of fairness to women. She famously held Nike accountable when the company – her main sponsor for many years – asked her to take a 70% pay cut during her pregnancy in 2018, with a guest editorial in The New York Times. Under pressure from Felix and others, the company changed its maternity policy in 2019.
Felix returned to competition in 2019, finishing sixth in the 400 m at the U.S. nationals and making the American team for the World Championships in the relay pool. She won golds in the mixed 4×400 m and for running in the heats of the women’s 4×400 m. She actually benefitted from the one-year delay of the Tokyo Games to 2021, making the U.S. team in the 400 m and earning the bronze medal in 49.46, considered an astonishing feat of recovery from a difficult pregnancy less than three years before. She additionally won another gold on the U.S. women’s 4×400 m relay.
Now she will conclude her career in 2022, with the possibility of running in the first World Championships to be held in the U.S. Whatever the results, she will be universally remembered for class, dignity and grace under pressure, both on and off the track.
≡ THE 5-RING CIRCUS ≡
● International Olympic Committee ● The first and only member of the IOC from Israel, Alex Gilady, passed away on Wednesday (13th) at age 79, in London, after a battle with cancer.
A long-time broadcaster and executive for NBC Sports, Gilady was elected to the IOC in 1994 and served in many roles, up to and including the Coordination Commissions for the Games in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), London (2012), Rio (2016), Tokyo (2020-21) and was a member of the Paris 2024 commission team. His contributions were usually behind the scenes, although he occasionally showed up in headlines for direct-to-the-point comments.
He helped found the Keshet Media Group in Israel in 1992 and was its head from 2005-17. He was accused of sexual harassment, then sued his accusers; the cases were later settled.
● Athletics ● American high jump star Chaunte Lowe, 38, a four-time Olympian, announced her retirement, concluding a career which saw her win the 2012 World Indoor Championship.
She was a top performer at the biggest meets, with a 2005 World Championships silver, an Olympic bronze medal in 2008 and a Worlds Indoors bronze in 2010, to go along with her 2012 indoor gold.
She ranks equal-11th all-time with her career best of 2.05 m (6-8 3/4) from 2010, still the American Record. She owns six of the top 11 jumps in U.S. history, indoors and out.
In addition to her Olympic bronze in Beijing in 2008, she finished fifth in London in 2012 and fourth in Rio in 2016, losing the bronze medal on the countback.
She’s also a three-time mom, to daughters Jasmine and Aurora and son Mario, and overcame cancer in 2019 and 2020, astonishingly returning to competition in 2021.
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) unveiled the first class of the Collegiate Athlete Hall of Fame, celebrating the centennial of the NCAA Track & Field Championships, which began in 1921.
The inaugural class includes 30 athletes from 25 schools who combined for 205 national collegiate individual titles, 99 world records, and 19 Olympic gold medals during their collegiate careers. The induction ceremony will be held on 6 June in Eugene, Oregon, also the site of the 2022 NCAA Championships. The selections:
● Jenny Barringer (Colorado)
● Ralph Boston (Tennessee State)
● Ron Delany (Villanova)
● Harrison Dillard (Baldwin-Wallace)
● Suzy Favor (Wisconsin)
● Charlie Greene (Nebraska)
● Carlette Guidry (Texas)
● DeHart Hubbard (Michigan)
● Vicki Huber (Villanova)
● Jackie Johnson (Arizona State)
● Jackie Joyner (UCLA)
● Sally Kipyego (Texas Tech)
● Carl Lewis (Houston)
● Gerry Lindgren (Washington State)
● Randy Matson (Texas A&M)
● Ralph Metcalfe (Marquette)
● Rodney Milburn (Texas Southern)
● Bobby Morrow (Abilene Christian)
● Suleiman Nyambui (UTEP)
● Billy Olson (Abilene Christian)
● Merlene Ottey (Nebraska)
● Jesse Owens (Ohio State)
● Mel Patton (USC)
● Steve Prefontaine (Oregon)
● Meg Ritchie (Arizona)
● Henry Rono (Washington State)
● Wilma Rudolph (Tennessee State)
● Jim Ryun (Kansas)
● Erick Walder (Arkansas)
● John Woodruff (Pitt)
The USTFCCCA noted that “Eligibility for induction this year was limited to men who had completed their collegiate eligibility prior to 2000 and women prior to 2010, with the difference being an effort to increase the number of women eligible, as the men’s side of the sport has a much longer history.”
● Football ● The play-off schedule for the final European qualifying group for the 2022 FIFA World Cup – which includes Ukraine – has finally been set, with Scotland and Ukraine playing on 1 June in Glasgow.
The winner will face Wales in Cardiff on 5 June, with the victor qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar in November. The “Path A” winner, as this segment of the UEFA qualifying is known, will join Group B, with England, Iran and the U.S.
● Swimming ● FINA announced that the 2022 World Junior Championships will be held in Lima, Peru, from 30 August-4 September 2022.
Lima, the 2019 Pan American Games host, replaces Kazan (RUS), which was stripped of the event in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Lima hosted this event one before, in 2011. Per FINA:
“Over 600 promising swimmers from more than 100 National Federations, between the ages of 14-17 for women and 15-18 for men, are expected to compete in the premier international event for junior swimmers.”
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