US Olympic Trials: Big shocks for Olympic champions Allyson Felix and Aries Merritt
Both won gold medals at the 2012 London Games but would not be able to defend them.
The US Olympic Trials in athletics wrapped up on Sunday at Eugene, Oregon but not before witnessing two major shocks. Sprinter Allyson Felix, who won the gold medal in women’s 200m at the 2012 London Games, failed in her attempt to qualify for her favourite event, making it the first time since 2000 that the illustrious athlete won’t be featuring in that discipline at the Games.
Hobbled with a sore ankle, the 30-year-old American gave her very best but ultimately a photo-finish robbed her of her hopes of competing in the event in four consecutive Olympics.
Both Felix and a diving Jenna Prandini crossed the finish line almost together. But ultimately, Prandini got the chance to make her Olympic debut while the veteran’s dreams crashed. According to the photo-finish, the younger athlete clinched the last spot by just one one-hundredth of a second.
Felix would still be going to Rio Olympics 2016, but in 400m and the 4x100 and the 4x400 relays. But it is the 200m that had brought her the maximum success throughout her career. Apart from the London gold, she also captured silver medals at both the Athens and the Beijing Games. Three World Championships gold medals as well as a bronze were also picked up by her in that particular discipline.
The champion was obviously morose after the setback. She had rolled her right ankle while training a couple of months back that restricted her preparations. At the Trials, her lack of speed got very well exposed that cost her the coveted berth.
“All year I planned for this race, and for it to end here, it’s disappointing,” rued Felix.
“But when I look back and see everything that happened, I still think it’s quite amazing that I was able to make this team. I feel like everything was against me.”
Merritt recovers from kidney transplant but can’t beat photo-finish
Fate turned out to be cruel for another reigning Olympic champion. Hurdles supremo Aries Merritt, who has achieved everything in men’s 110m hurdles that includes the world record timing too, underwent a kidney transplant 10 months ago.
A subsequent groin tear too did not throw him off and the dedicated athlete gave his all to secure another berth at the mega quadrennial Games. But destiny had other plans.
He missed it by a whisker as he finished a hundredth of a second behind the third place. He even requested for a re-evaluation of the photo-finish but the result unfortunately stayed the same.
Despite the big blow, the 30-year-old said that it was a miracle that he was able to compete at the Trials after participating in just three competitions this year.
“This was only my fourth meet of the year. To be where I am is a miracle,” Merritt said.
“It’s a pity I am not going to the Games because I know in six weeks time I will be in much better shape.”