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Hubert Lawrence assesses 'The Felix Double'

Published:Thursday | January 21, 2016 | 1:00 AM
APGold medal winner, American Allyson Felix (centre); Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (right), the bronze medallist; and Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas, who captured silver, pose during the medals presentation for the women’s 400 metres at the IAAF World Championships at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, China, last summer.

The mission Allyson Felix has chosen to accept is still difficult. When the superb American ran the 200-400m double at the 2011 World Championships, the schedule was perfect.

Now, even though the overlap between the 200m and 400m has been eased for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Felix still has a tough road to travel.

In 2011, in Daegu, South Korea, the 400 metres and the 200m were separated by a day of rest. At the 2012 Olympics, the 200m started the day after the 400 metres ended but with the 200m heats and semis on the same day.

Overlap between the two sprints appeared at the 2013 World Championships, and even though the gap between the 200m heats and the 400m final has been extended from 75 minutes to 13 hours at this year's Olympic Games, they are still on the same day.

WAY TO GOLD

It would be far better for the 30-year-old American if the Daegu schedule was reintroduced. In fact, when US superstar Michael Johnson fought to do the same double in the 1996

Olympics, he insisted on a day to rest in between the 400m and the 200m. Not only is that rest day absent for Felix, but the elegant American still has to run a 200m and a 400m on the same day.

In other words, if she does qualify for both events at the US Olympic Trials, she will have to run once on day two and three; twice on day four at 9.30 a.m. local time in her 200m heat and in the 400m final at 10.45 p.m. local time; and then once on both days five and six.

As good as the four-time individual World Champion is, she obviously doesn't have the clout Johnson had in 1996 when he was the undisputed king of athletics. If she got her way, it would be a good guess that others might try the double.

Bahamian Shaunae Miller, second to Felix in the 400m last year at the Worlds, is nippy over 200 metres. If the overlap remains, Miller might be best advised to skip it to save all her energy for the 400 metres.

That event could have the last two Olympic winners, American Sanya Richards-Ross and Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain and a likely Jamaican trio from the quartet of World bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, Christine Day, Stephenie McPherson, and Novlene Williams-Mills in Felix's way to gold.

In the meantime, Daphne Schippers of Holland and the Jamaican pair of Elaine Thompson and Veronica Campbell-Brown, who went 1-2-3 at last year's World Championships, and the rest of the world's best 200-metre runners, are probably breathing a sigh of relief. Instead of facing the reigning Olympic 200m champion when she is relatively fresh, they will face Felix in the final of the curved sprint on her sixth consecutive day of action.

Add 2012 Olympic runner-up Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and young British star Dina Asher-Smith to the mix and the task for Felix gets tougher.

Given that they will all have rested after the 100m ends on day two of the Olympics athletics programme and before the 200m starts on day four, they still hold the advantage.

n Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.