Track and field: Felix earns elusive gold medal

2 more place first on big 7-medal night for the US
2012-08-09T00:00:00Z Track and field: Felix earns elusive gold medalThe Associated Press The Associated Press
August 09, 2012 12:00 am  • 

LONDON - No more heartbreak for Allyson Felix. No more silver, either.

Denied twice on the world's biggest stage, Felix won the Olympic gold medal she's been yearning, taking the 200 meters Wednesday night to fill the last, and biggest, hole in her otherwise stellar resume.

Felix won the race in 21.88 seconds, topping Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100 four nights earlier, by 0.21 seconds. American Carmelita Jeter added bronze to go with her silver in the 100 meters.

"I think it was all for a reason," Felix said. "It kept me motivated and it made this moment very special. It was a big weight being lifted."

She won easily, leaving nothing to chance - or a coin flip that caused such a flap at Olympic trials - as she hugged the line around the curve, then burst ahead of Fraser-Pryce with 40 meters to go and gave coach Bobby Kersee another gold medal to celebrate.

Finishing fourth was Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown, who defeated Felix in the Athens and Beijing Games and was trying to become the first woman to win the same individual track and field event in three consecutive Olympics.

Instead, the Americans were the ones celebrating three straight, their own 15 minutes of fame: Felix, followed quickly by Aries Merritt in the 110 hurdles and Brittney Reese in the long jump.

"We are always aware of what the medal count is," said Jason Richardson, who finished second to Merritt in the hurdles as part of a seven-medal day at the track for the United States. "I know track and field can . . . let the world know the Americans are the best track and field country."

Reese, a two-time world champion, became only the second American woman to win the long jump at the Olympics, leaping 23 feet, 4 1/2 inches (7.12 meters) on her second attempt. Jackie Joyner-Kersee gave the U.S. its other gold in 1988.

Janay Deloach added a bronze and now the Americans head into the last four days of the Olympics with 20 medals at the track - 10 away from fulfilling their "Project 30" aspirations for the London Games.

Felix certainly did her part.

"She's been trying very hard for this moment," said Jeter, who became the first U.S. woman to medal in both sprints since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. "When I gave her a hug, that's exactly what I told her: 'You've waited for this moment.'"

Felix adds this gold to the two individual silvers and one 4x400 relay gold from the 2008 Olympics.

She is, according to USATF, the most decorated woman in 200-meter history. At 26, she now has seven Olympic and world championship medals at the distance - four of them gold.

Maybe just as importantly, she's the athlete who has consistently stood out as a smiling, trustworthy exception in a sport that has nearly buried itself under the weight of doping scandals and performances that seem too good to be true.

Richards-Ross, who finished fifth, said Felix "definitely deserves this moment. . . . She's wanted this for a very long time."

With the victory, Felix put at least a brief stop to Jamaica's relentlessness in Olympic sprints. Before she won, Jamaica had won seven of the last eight Olympic sprints, including relays.

Felix will receive her first-place prize Thursday at a ceremony shortly before the men's 200, and then she'll prepare for the relays, where she could have a spot in both the long and short races.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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