Under a rare clear London sky, Allyson Felix shot around the track in the 200-meter race like a woman determined to not have a third failure in the event of her life.
With 40 meters remaining to cover before the finish line – and the elusive Olympic gold medal – Felix burst pass Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to glory.
The disheartening results of previous Olympics mattered not. The gold was hers, and she left no doubt about it, either, winning by .21 seconds.
Felix won the race in 21.88 seconds, topping Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, who won the 100 four nights earlier and Team USA’s Carmelita Jeter, who added a bronze to go with her silver in the 100 meters.
One more spot back 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.
It was the third-place tie in 100-meter qualifying at U.S. trials last month that hovered over Felix’s run-up to these Olympics — forcing her to defend herself off the track for the first time in an otherwise-pristine career.
Her tie with Jeneba Tarmoh for the third and final spot in the 100 forced USA Track and Field officials to scramble for a solution. One possibility was a coin flip; instead, they settled on a run-off. But Tarmoh begged off. Felix, never a serious medal contender for the 100, had to defend her decision not to give up the spot, and she went on to finish fifth.
“Everyone just expected me to give up this spot, because I think lots of people … know me and they know that I’m seen as this very nice girl,” Felix said with a chuckle a few days before the start of track and field in London. “But it’s not just about me.”
On this night, finally, it was.