LONDON — Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross have been two of the most accomplished U.S. sprinters in recent memory despite the one lingering detail missing from their resumes – individual Olympic gold.
Felix has three world titles in the 200 meters while Richards-Ross has one World Championships gold in the 400 meters, but in a sport that the mainstream public only pays attention to every four years, the two have faltered come the Olympic Games.
Felix was runner-up to Veronica Campbell-Brown at the Athens Games as just a 18-year-old but entered the 2008 Olympics as the 200 meter favorite after winning at both the 2005 and 2007 World Championships. Disappointment struck again in Beijing as Campbell-Brown sprinted past Felix for the Jamaican’s second 200 meter Olympic gold.
Felix’s past Olympic misfortune looks to be driving her in 2012. After the 100 meter dead-heat fiasco at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Felix took her position in the blocks in the 200 meter final and blasted a personal best 21.69 seconds, the fourth-fastest performance ever.
“The Trials was great for me, it really had been a long time coming for me since I had set a PR, so for that to come together just encouraged me to keep pushing and hopefully have a good performance here,” Felix said on Tuesday in London.
The time leaves Felix as the overwhelming favorite for gold in London. Her world’s best time from Eugene is a whole four-tenths of a second ahead of number two Richards-Ross at 22.09 seconds. The Irish-based sports book Paddy Power lists Felix as a 1/2 favorite to win gold.
The journey to gold will be more difficult for Richards-Ross.
The University of Texas grad was on top of the world in 2009 after winning her first world title but struggled with injuries and illness in 2010 and 2011. In addition to ailing hamstring and ankle issues, Richards-Ross was previously told she had rare immune system disease called Behcet’s disease but found out this year she was misdiagnosed. Now taking a lower dose of medication, Richards-Ross looks to be back in form having set the then-world leading time of 49.28 seconds at the U.S. Trials in late June.
“They say the third time is the charm, so I’m hoping that holds true for me,” Richards-Ross said Monday referring to London being her third Olympic appearance. “My training is exactly where I want it to be, so I’m hoping to have my best race of the season here at the Olympics.”
Her primary obstacle to the top of the medal stand comes in the form of 2011 world champion Amantle Montsho. The first Motswana to win a global track and field title, Montsho has run under the 50 second barrier four times this year. The always unpredictable Russians, led by Antonina Krivoshapka and Yulia Gushchina, will also be in the mix.