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Allyson Felix fights way to Olympic gold
Nice guys (and gals) don't always finish last.
Finishing first, though, sometimes requires letting some niceties go.
Look at Allyson Felix. Whoops. Make that Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix, winner of today's 200-meter race.
The 26-year-old from Los Angeles got her first individual gold medal in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion to pass the field and hold off Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the straightaway with long, elegant strides. In a lot of ways, though, those theatrics paled in comparison to Felix's pre-Olympics drama, when she ended up in a photo finish with her training partner Jeneba Tarmoh for the third and final spot on the American 100-meter team.
Felix is seen as a 200-meter specialist, but she wanted to run in the 100-meter race to prepare for her big race. She felt that the extra competition at the shorter distance also made her more aggressive.
That's why when the photo-finish controversy began, Felix balked at the idea of simply withdrawing so that Tarmoh could make the team at 100-meters and Felix would keep her spot on the team at 200-meters. Organizers first floated the idea of having a coin toss settle the matter, before deciding that Felix and Tarmoh could have a runoff.
Tarmoh felt that she deserved a place, but ultimately felt she couldn't mentally prepare for the runoff and withdrew. Felix got both spots and was criticized by some for not doing the “nice” thing.
We're in such a weird time where so many people see things as black and white. If it's not 100 percent right, people think it's automatically 100 percent wrong. The world is actually far more gray than that – and in way more shades than 50.
Felix did not do anything wrong. She tied for that final spot and was willing to run in order to win it outright. Winners don't give those chances away at the Olympic level. There is just too much at stake, something Felix knew all too well after two silver-medal finishes in the last two Olympics.
“It was just devastating,” she told NBC of the finishes.
She said she had to learn to be selfish this time.
“I never wanted to give up,” Felix said after the race. “It's never easy. There's tons of hardships along the way, but you just can't give up or lose sight of your dream.”
Sometimes you have to fight for that dream in order to achieve it – whether it seems nice or not.