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Allyson Felix becomes an Olympic legend for multiple reasons

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The diving competition at the Rio Olympics was in full swing on Monday. Unfortunately for sprinter Allyson Felix, the best gold medal dive came at the track and field competition.

Felix was looking to win the gold medal in the women’s 400-meter dash. Competing in her fourth Olympiad, she was a favorite to do so.

As the race neared the final stages, Felix seemed even or possibly slightly ahead of Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas. In what will become Olympic legend, Miller dove across the finish line to snatch the gold from the grasp of Felix.

Miller’s dive would have scored poorly in the diving competition, but it was worth the top prize in track. While she may have suffered an abrasion or two on her knee, it was Felix who was feeling the pain.

Despite running her best race of the year, she came up short. Felix ran the 400 in 49.51 seconds, but Miller came in at 49.44.

With her silver, Felix became the most decorated track and field women in U.S. history with seven medals. Yes, better than Jackie Joyner-Kersee or Florence Griffith “Flo-Jo” Joyner.

That does not soothe the 30-year-old legend from Los Angeles.

NBC reported that she laid on the track for 20 minutes after the race, putting her disappointment on full display.

Before disappearing underneath the Olympic stadium, she offered candid thoughts about what had just happened both on Monday and throughout the year.

“I feel emotionally and physically drained at this point,” she told NBC’s Lewis Johnson. “Just disappointment, you know. I don’t think I’ve had a year this tough. I just really wanted it.”

How difficult must it be for an athlete to overcome an ankle injury, as Felix did, to finally run her best race of the year, only to still lose? That would be a disappointment many can understand.

Felix became the oldest woman to ever medal in the 400. While that is an accomplishment on its own, it also makes it clear that this was her last shot to win the gold in this event.

Miller, who will be only 26 when the Olympics heads to Tokyo in 2020, should only get faster. Bronze medalist Shericka Jackson of Jamaica will also be only 26.

Felix has made history during her participation in four Olympiads for medal-winning performances. While she will likely be remembered more for Monday’s race, her disappointment will eventually be overtaken by pride in what she accomplished.

Seven medals are quite an accomplishment.

 

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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