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Felix Prepares for Her Biggest Race

August 25, 2004|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — A year ago, Allyson Felix had just graduated from Los Angeles Baptist High and was poised for the life-changing experience of enrolling in college.

Today, she's poised for an even greater life-changing experience: competing in the Olympic 200-meter final.

The humble 18-year-old almost effortlessly won her semifinal heat Tuesday in 22.36 seconds, another invigorating performance for a U.S. team that was depleted and dispirited by doping scandals. The youngest U.S. track and field athlete, Felix has performed flawlessly in her first Olympics -- but she acknowledged she might be "a little nervous" when she lines up today in Lane 3, between Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria and Veronica Campbell of Jamaica.

"I definitely felt good, but I didn't want to go too hard in the semi," she said. "It feels like everything is coming together at the right time and I'm excited."

Felix, the youngest competitor in the final, was joined by Louisiana State standout Muna Lee, 22. Lee ran a 22.69 to finish fourth in the same semifinal as Felix; Campbell, the bronze medalist in the 100, won the other semifinal at 22.13.

The third U.S. entrant, LaShaunte'a Moore, was eliminated after finishing sixth in 22.93.

Thanks to her smooth, powerful strides, Felix won by 0.11 of a second in the first round, 0.10 in the second round and 0.20 in the semifinal. She was looking forward to a good night's sleep Tuesday.

"I'm really tired," she said, smiling as she left to prepare for the next big step in her life.

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