Allyson Felix made her fifth Olympic team, and first as a mother, on Sunday following a dramatic second-place finish in the 400 meters at the U.S. Track & Field Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.
Running from lane eight, Felix was in fourth place as the race entered the final homestretch to the finish line, but she narrowly caught two opponents ahead of her to record a season-best time of 50.02 seconds.
“Man, it has been a fight to get here,” Felix said during a postrace interview on NBC. “And one thing I know how to do is fight, so I just wanted to do that all the way home.”
Quanera Hayes, who won the race, and Wadeline Jonathas also qualified for the Olympic team.
The 35-year-old Felix made her Olympic debut in 2004 and said this will be her final Games. She has won nine Olympic medals, including six golds, over her career and is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the sport. Expected to participate in the 400 meters in Tokyo, as well as the 4×400 meters relay team and potentially the mixed-gender 4×400 meters relay, Felix would tie Carl Lewis’ record for the most Olympic medals by an American track and field athlete with a podium appearance.
Felix is also slated to compete in the 200 meters at the Olympic trials later this week but would not be able to run in both the 200 meters and the 400 meters in Tokyo due to the schedule.
Felix gave birth to her daughter, Camryn, via emergency C-section at 32 weeks in 2018. Camryn spent a month in a neonatal intensive care unit and Felix has spoken openly about the difficulties in her recovery and return to training.
Camryn, now 2, has been seen cheering on her mother throughout the trials. She joined Felix on the track after the race on Sunday, as did Hayes’ young son.
Quanera Hayes’ son and @allysonfelix‘s daughter met after their moms qualified for the #TokyoOlympics. The moment speaks for itself.@usatf | #TokyoOlympics x #TrackFieldTrials21 pic.twitter.com/MCrlvJ7G9e
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) June 21, 2021
Felix said Camryn has changed her perspective as an athlete and fueled her throughout Sunday’s race.
“I just wanted to really show her, no matter what, that you do things with character, integrity, and you don’t give up,” Felix said. “And to me, whether that was winning, losing, no matter the outcome, I wanted to stay consistent with that. Having her as motivation through these past couple of years has just given me a whole new drive.”
In other results on Sunday, 39-year-old Justin Gatlin pulled up with a hamstring injury about halfway through the 100 men’s final and finished last. Trayvon Bromell, Ronnie Baker and Fred Kerley finished in the top three spots, also leaving Noah Lyles out of the mix (although he’s still the favorite in the 200).
“It made me sad, but it made me happy to be here and be able to do it,” Gatlin said.
Michael Norman used a strong finish to hold off Michael Cherry and win the 400 meters.
World-record holder Keni Harrison won the 100-meter women’s hurdles title, though the American threesome for that race isn’t quite set. Defending Olympic champion Brianna McNeal finished second, but her trip is contingent on her winning an appeal on a doping conviction related to missed tests. She’s banned for five years, but was allowed to race while waiting on the appeal. Fourth-place finisher Gabbi Cunningham could get her spot.
Other winners included Garrett Scantling (decathlon), Vashti Cunningham (women’s high jump), Keturah Orji (women’s triple jump) and Rudy Winkler (men’s hammer throw).
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.