Allyson Felix of the United States is enjoying being gold and Olympic champion after winning the Women's 200m Final on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 8, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Feature London, UK

Aggression and determination are key to success for Felix

It became clear tonight why Allyson Felix has been able to claim an Olympic 200m gold after successive silvers: Bambi has turned into The Beast.

In the aftermath of a victory in 21.88 which reclaimed at least one of the four titles for the United States that had been annexed at the previous Games by Jamaica, the elegant 26-year-old stylist who had heretofore always managed to collect World golds – she took the World 200m title in 2005, 2007 and 2009 before taking bronze last year – explained that the key factor in managing to achieve her Olympic ambition was the aggression she had carried over from her 100 metres running here.

The decision to return seriously to the distance at which she registered her first international flourish in winning the 2001 World Youth Championships has paid off for her here, where she finished fifth in the 100m final in a personal best of 10.89.

"I think it was huge for me," she said, adding that she had learned a lot from the previous year, where she had a frustrating Worlds as she took bronze in the 200m and silver in the 400.

"Going back to the 200 from the 100 I was able to bring the aggression, and having a PR encouraged me and I just knew that that speed would help me in my 200.

"So I guess the one main element was just the speed I had after going back to the 100 metres and just trying to be aggressive. I think that’s something that hasn’t always been there for me – being determined, just being very focused, so I think it was a combination of all those things which just made the race come together for me.

"I think my running style is a gift and a curse. It looks very fluid, and it’s nice, but sometimes you have to get into aggressive mode and you need a quick turnover. People like to think I always run as if I am floating, but sometimes you have to do more. I think I’m very strong, but if anything goes I think I just get too complacent. I have to get back into that aggressive mode – it’s just keeping digging."

All she needs to do now is growl at the camera before the race and do that little double-claw thing that the other self-styled Beast, Yohan Blake, has recently adopted. Only she might try doing it properly.

Asked how she felt about earning back one of the sprint titles from Jamaica for the United States, she responded: "It’s cool. Of course there’s always talk about the rivalry, but what is fresh in my mind is just the individual defeats and those emotions, for four years, and then another. It’s been a long time coming for me.

"I didn’t really have any idea of where I was, I was in the zone, just wanted to lean on the line, it’s the Olympics, anything can happen, and I just dove, and that’s when I had that moment of thinking 'Thank you Lord for letting all this come together.’ And I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling since.

"I just think it hasn’t completely sunk in yet. It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a long journey. I thought about Beijing where I crossed the line and saw all my family and breaking down there. So there were a lot of emotions when I crossed the line today, and when I saw my family it was complete happiness."

On the subject of how it felt to finally defeat her old nemesis Veronica Campbell-Brown, the Jamaican who was seeking a third consecutive Olympic 200m title here, Felix replied with an ever broader smile: "Let me tell you, to lose twice at the Olympic Games, it’s been tough. But she is not a horrible person, it’s just more that when we get in a race together we push each other.

"Veronica is a fighter, and I always know she will step up. That’s how it’s always been along the way and tonight it was no different."

Asked if she felt the years of Olympic frustration might have been something she had to endure to get to this point, she replied: "It was just a lot of ups and downs, but I think the moment that motivated me the most was losing on the biggest stage – just never forgetting that feeling. And now that I have this success I see it played a part. At the time in Beijing I said I would give all those World Championship medals for the gold. But now I say I embrace the whole journey because it has pushed me all these years. So now it is very sweet."

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF