History in the making, Allyson Felix crosses the line to become the World Champion over 200m for the third time (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News 22 August 2009 – Berlin, Germany

With unprecedented third straight title, Felix underscores world dominance

Berlin, GermanyAs she crossed the line, her right hand was clenched in a celebratory punch of glory. No sprinter had won the 200m three times in the history of the World Championships before and American Allyson Felix had just changed all that.

But there was more. In the process of 22.02 seconds, the American took a huge step to putting her despair from last year's Olympic Games in Beijing to the back of her mind. In China, as in Athens four years earlier, she was beaten by Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, but in Berlin there was only one champion from the second that gun fired.

When it comes to the 200m at the World Championships, there has never been anyone like Felix.

"I don't think I ever wanted to get over it (Beijing)," said Felix. "That is a true competitor. You never want to be satisfied with losing. I am going to keep that moment. It's going to motivate me."

It is some rivalry with Campbell-Brown.

They have duelled in five major 200m finals since 2004 with the outcome astonishing. Felix has won all three world titles - in Helsinki in 2005, Osaka in 2007 and now Berlin - with Campbell-Brown finishing second behind the American in the last two, while in Athens and Beijing, the places have been reversed.

Felix said: "Veronica and I have been going back and forth for a long time. Every time I race her she brings out the best in me. I am extremely happy, being a three times winner is very special. I could not have asked for more."

It is an amazing scenario of how the Olympic 200m stage belongs to the Jamaican while the World scene is dominated by Felix.

This final on Friday night was a prime example. Felix, from lane 5, powered from the blocks with Campbell-Brown in the corner of her eye in the lane to her left.

At the home turn, Felix was just ahead and with 40m left there was only one winner. The American was stupendous in the flowing movement of her running, and nothing, or nobody, could stop her.

Campbell-Brown, 27, was second in 22.35 while Bahamian Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie, 33, the 2001 World champion, was third in 22.41.

In Beijing, it was all about Campbell-Brown and it is why Felix re-assessed her approach to the event.

She has been based with the American team in Paris for six weeks. "I made some mistakes last year in terms of travelling back and forth to Europe from the USA," said Felix. "I have been here in Europe since July 7 and I am staying until the end (of the season). Sacrifices like that are necessary and I did not know that before.

"We have been living in dorms and stuff but everything you need is right there. It is not too far from the city and it has worked.

"Beijing was disappointing because I did not reach my goals. But I am grateful for those experiences. It is in the past now. This victory begins the healing process and I am moving on from here."

It was not easy to start again though, returning home without the Olympic gold medal she craved.

"I was drained from last year, and Bobby (Kersee, her coach) gave me more time away from the track and we took things slowly," she said. "We were up and down. I did not run too many 200s, which was frustrating because I was not in my event, but it made me hungry and I am pleased about how it ended up."

Achieving the success in this Olympic Stadium where four-times gold medallist Jesse Owens defied the presence of Adolf Hitler's belief in the supremacy of the Aryan race at the Games in 1936 made the victory even more significant for this outstanding Los Angeles athlete.

"We talked about it a lot coming here," said Felix. "Jesse Owens means so much, he was so courageous during such a difficult time and for him to have accomplished so much for us, I am forever grateful. To win this gold in this stadium means a great deal."

But as amazing at it might sound because it seems we have talking about her for ages at the senior World level, Felix is still only 23.

She said: "I remember travelling to Paris (in 2003) by myself and to think this is now the fourth World Championships I have been to, I am completely blessed.

"Coming out of High School, I would never have imagined to be here today and have gold medal No 3. I am still the same - I have a passion for the sport."

Next stop the 4 x 100m relays - and another clash with her great rival from a country that has been dominating the sprints here once.

Felix's win broke the Jamaican stranglehold so far in the men's 100m and 200m with Usain Bolt and the women's 100m with Shelly-Ann Fraser.

But she said: "I don't think Jamaica will be too worried. I was hearing it a lot in the media, the battle between Jamaica and us and tonight I went out there and focused on myself and what I needed to do to make my country proud.

"The rivalry to me is fine, it is exciting and I am looking forward to the relays. We are going to be back at it."

Richard Lewis for the IAAF