Representation may still be maddeningly scant in other sports, but when it comes to track and field, Black women run the world. Literally. For some of our favorite US Olympic Track and Field athletes, this year is all about comebacks and victory.
26-year-old Allyson Felix (affectionately nicknamed “Chicken Legs” in high school) is now an Olympic gold medalist in the 200M dash. At the 2004 Athens Games, she won her first Olympic medal — a silver — in the women’s 200m dash. The following year, she won a silver medal again. Both times she lost to Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell Brown. This year, Allyson came back for the gold. And she got it on what is being recognized as one of the U.S.’s best nights in Olympic track and field history.
The U.S. track and field team grabbed a meet that was slipping away and completely turned it around with a staggering seven-medal haul that included three golds.
“Just a flood of emotions,” Felix said.
Individually, sure, but for the team as a whole as well. Felix’s victory in the women’s 200 meters — a victory that now supplants her silver medals in 2004 and 2008 — was the centerpiece of a night that also brought gold for Brittney Reese in the women’s long jump and Aries Merritt in the men’s 110-meter hurdles.
And the Americans merely beat other Americans, because Carmelita Jeter took bronze behind Felix; Janay DeLoach did the same behind Reese; and Jason Richardson followed Merritt to the line for silver.
Throw in a silver in the women’s 400-meter hurdles for Lashinda Demus — who was all of seven hundredths of a second behind gold medallist Natalya Antyukh of Russia — and the U.S. had one of the best nights in its Olympics track and field history.
With three days remaining, Americans already have 20 medals at Olympic Stadium, 11 from the women alone. That’s a bigger haul for the U.S. women’s track and field team in any Olympics other than 1984, which was diluted by the Soviet-led boycott.
Allyson isn’t the only one to see her dreams come true after a devastating loss (if you can call winning a silver medal at the friggin Olympics at 18 and 22 a loss). Long jump champion Brittney Reese told the Washington Post that after finishing fifth in Beijing, she cried all the way home. This year, she takes home the first gold since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988:
Reese, a former basketball player at Ole Miss, committed fouls on four of her six attempts in the long jump finals, so anxious was she to push herself further into the pit. But her second leap was 23 feet, 41 / 2 inches. Even as Janay DeLoach and Russia’s Elena Sokolova took shot after shot, they couldn’t overcome it.
Sanya Richards-Ross is another track and field athlete whose tears from 2008 turned into triumphs this year.
The 27-year-old is originally from Jamaica and came to the US when she was just twelve years old. In 2008, she competed in the 400 meter race and ended up being passed in the last 100 meters and walked away with a bronze medal. They found her crying under the stands. This year, she beat the defending champion and finished the race for the gold in 49.55 seconds. After her win, she told ESPN
“The run was phenomenal. It’s very, very challenging to get on the Olympic stage and give your best performance, to balance your emotions and physical. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders. I kept telling myself, `You are the champ. You are the champ.’ To go out there and actually accomplish it is really fantastic.”
Off the track and in the boxing ring, 17-year-old Claressa Shields won the first Middleweight Gold medal in women’s Olympic boxing. Sport. Sports Illustrated reports:
Shields shuffled, danced and slugged her way past her 33-year-old opponent, showing off the free-spirited style and brute strength that made her unbeatable at the London Games.
Shields even stuck her tongue out at Torlopova after ducking a few punches in the final round.
The teenager won the 12-member American team’s only gold medal in London. The winningest nation in Olympic boxing history got no medals from its men’s team for the first time, and flyweight Marlen Esparza won a bronze.
Shields has been on the international boxing scene for less than two years, but the Flint, Mich., native is among its fastest-rising stars. She lost early in the world championships, yet still qualified for the Olympics.
It’s been a great year for our female athletes in the Olympics and it’s not over yet!
Who were you rooting for the most this year?
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