EUGENE, Ore. — Allyson Felix, perhaps the biggest name in women’s track and the owner of four Olympic gold medals and two silvers, has been to three Olympics with a fourth already secured in Rio by qualifying in the women’s 400 meters earlier at the U.S. track and field trials. Jenna Prandini, meanwhile, has never been to the Olympics and failed to qualify in the 100 meters.
Which made the finish in Sunday’s women’s 200 final very interesting. And the wait to see the official results that much more agonizing.
When the two crossed the finish line behind winner Tori Bowie and second-place Deajah Stevens, it was so close it wasn’t immediately clear who had finished third to secure the final qualifying spot. Would Felix get to compete in the 200 for the fourth time at the Olympics and try for her fourth medal in the event? Or would Prandini realize her dream?
“I wasn’t sure,” Felix said. “I just knew I gave all I had and leaned at the line.”
Felix fails to qualify for 200, must settle for 400
Allyson Felix, who had already qualified in the 400 meters for next month’s Rio Olympics, won’t represent the U.S. in the 200 after she placed fourth in Sunday’s trials final.
At the start of trials, 16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin almost didn’t make it to the starting line. Now, she’ll be the youngest U.S. track athlete to compete in the Olympics in over 40 years.
From operating table to Olympic trials final in eight months.
“I was just hoping that was enough to get me on the team. It felt like a really long time,” Prandini said. “When the result finally showed on the board, I was overwhelmed with excitement.”
The photo finish showed Prandini had finished third by one one-hundredth of a second. She did so after having stumbled forward just before the line.
“It wasn’t something that I intentionally did, but I’m happy that it happened because it got me here,” Prandini said. “I knew that Allyson was coming, but I just wanted to get to that finish line and do whatever it took to get on this team.”
This will be the first Olympics that Felix hasn’t competed in the 200. She raced in both the 100 and 200 at the 2012 Olympics in London, winning gold in the 200 and finishing fifth in the 100. She also won gold in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays to become the first woman to win three golds in track in one Olympics since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988.
This year, she decided to try for a different double in the 200 and 400. It was unclear whether Felix would be able to qualify in either because of a right ankle injury she suffered a few months ago while training.
She qualified in the 400, blazing past the other runners down the stretch to win with a time of 49.68. So despite missing out on the 200, she still has that.
“I hate that she’s not on the team in 200, but she made the team in the 400,” said Bowie, who also qualified for the U.S. team in the 100. “She still has something to look forward to.”
Felix said she would not run any races before the Olympics, instead using the time to rest her body and recover.
“I’ll just take the time we have to get back and perfect the 400,” she said. “I mean, the speed just wasn’t there today. When I give all I have and I run 22.50, the speed just wasn’t there.”