Allyson Felix wins the 200m at the American Track League in Fayetteville (© Shawn Price)
When Allyson Felix last raced over 200m indoors, she was a 17-year-old up-and-coming high school phenomenon.
Eighteen years, 11 world titles and six Olympic gold medals later, the 35-year-old returned to the banked oval on Sunday (21) for the fourth American Track League fixture in Fayetteville – a World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver meeting – and, as she so often has done during her glittering career, emerged the winner.
Drawn in lane five, Felix didn’t get out of the blocks particularly well, but she hit top speed on the back straight and made up the stagger on 15-year-old Shawnti Jackson, drawn in lane six. Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn moved on to Felix’s shoulder on the final bend, but Felix edged ahead again on the final stretch and pulled away to win in 22.59.
Felix’s winning time smashed her previous PB (23.14) and moves her to 18th on the US indoor all-time list. It’s also the fastest ever indoor 200m by a masters (35+) athlete; no one else that age has ever bettered 23 seconds.
“It feels good to be running again, it’s been a long time,” said Felix, who will be targeting the 200m at the US Olympic Trials later this year. “The 200m is one of my favourite races, so I just wanted to have some fun. We’re still working hard; the big goal is much later this year.”
Sprint hurdler Camacho-Quinn, a former training partner of Felix’s, finished second in an indoor PB of 22.91. Jackson, daughter of 2005 world 400m hurdles champion Bershawn Jackson, was third in 23.45.
Earlier in the programme, Felix had finished second in the 60m in 7.28 in a race won by Britain’s Daryll Neita (7.24).
On a good day for the women’s long sprints, hurdles specialist Shamier Little dominated the 400m.
The 2015 world 400m hurdles silver medallist sped through the first lap in 23.45, just 0.05 shy of her indoor PB for 200m, but ran a controlled second lap to finish in 50.57. Her winning time moves her to seventh on the US indoor all-time list.
Jamaica’s Chrisann Gordon was second in 52.06 and Mexico’s Paola Moran third in 52.78.
Saruni back to his best, Crouser far from his – yet still wins
Kenya’s Michael Saruni, looking like he’s back in the form that carried him to an African indoor 800m record two years ago, won his specialist event in 1:45.34.
The 2018 NCAA indoor champion followed the pacemaker through 400m in 50.48 and held a slight lead over Isaiah Harris at 600m. Saruni then kicked on the final lap and opened a big gap on the rest of the field, going on to win by almost a second. Kameron Jones was the runner-up in 1:46.23.
A bout of food poisoning put an end to Ryan Crouser’s streak of 22-metre-plus competitions, though it wasn’t enough to prevent him winning. The Olympic champion produced five valid throws beyond 21.70m, all of which would have been enough to win. His best throw, 21.93m, came in the fifth round. Payton Otterdahl was second with 21.40m.
“I had one of my best practices ever on Friday in preparation for this meet,” said Crouser. “This meeting had been my big focus of the whole indoor season and everything was geared to throwing far this weekend. But then I got unbelievably sick on Friday night and all through Saturday. I’m not exactly feeling great right now, but I just wanted to come out and compete.”
There were big throws across the board in the women’s shot put. For the first time ever in US women’s shot putting, the top three all threw 19.50m or beyond.
Olympic finalist Raven Saunders threw an indoor PB of 19.57m in the fourth round to overtake all-round throws talent Maggie Ewen, who had set a PB of 19.54m in round two. Pan-American Games bronze medallist Jessica Ramsey set an outright PB of 19.50m to finish third. The three women now sit at fourth, fifth and sixth respectively on the US indoor all-time list.
Jamaica’s 2015 world champion Danielle Williams finished strongly to win the women’s 60m hurdles, overtaking Tonea Marshall on her way to an equal PB of 7.86. Marshall finished second in 7.89.
Michael Dickson, winner of the men’s event, was also rewarded with a PB. He clocked a best of 7.53 in the heats and then matched it in the final to finish 0.13 ahead of Ruebin Walters of Trinidad and Tobago.
Elsewhere, 2016 world indoor champion Marquis Dendy won the long jump with a last-round leap of 8.19m. Olivia Gruver won the pole vault with 4.70m, equalling her recent PB.
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics