LONDON – In the biggest competition of her life, long jumper Brittney Reese cost herself a precious attempt.
“I messed myself all up,” Reese said. “I was too busy cheering for Allyson Felix.”
That’s how much people like Felix, who finally completed her personal quest for a gold medal in the 200 meters here Wednesday night. The fresh-faced 26-year-old from Los Angeles really is just that nice. Maybe too nice. Maybe that was the problem in Athens and Beijing, where she took silver instead of gold.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Felix said after winning in 21.88 seconds, .21 ahead of silver medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica. “Before the race, I reflected on the journey. I thought about Beijing and crossing the line and seeing my family and just breaking down there. Tonight I saw them and it was just complete happiness.”
There was a lot of that going around for the U.S. team. Felix’s gold and Carmelita Jeter’s bronze were among seven medals won by the U.S. team in frenzied hour or so. Along with Felix, Reese rallied from her “messed up” jump to win gold, and Aries Merritt won gold in the 100 hurdles.
For good measure, Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee were first and second, respectively, in the decathlon standings after half the events. They could both be on the podium tonight.
“Some of us in D Block in the Olympic village were saying we had to close the gap on China,” said Jason Richardson, who took silver behind Merritt. “We needed to step up and show the U.S. still has moves like Jagger.”
The medal spree moved the U.S. team in front of China in the overall medal count, 81-77. The Chinese still have more gold medals, 36-34, going into the final weekend of the games.
Sanya Richards-Ross finished fifth in the 200 after finally claiming her long-sought gold in the 400 a couple of nights earlier. She understood how Feliz felt.
“I’m very happy for Allyson,” Richards-Ross said. “The pressure is too heavy to describe. It’s a pressure I put on myself. Now I’m finally breathing, not suffocating under disappointment.”