Allyson Michelle Felix (1985– )

Allyson Felix at 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Courtesy Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil (CC BY-SA 3.0)
“Image Ownership: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil”

Allyson Michelle Felix is an American track and field sprinter who competes in 100-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meter races. Felix is the 2012 Olympic Champion, a three-time World champion (2005–09), and two-time Olympic silver medalist (2004–08) at 200 meters. At 400 meters, she is the 2015 World champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist. Felix also won additional Olympic gold medals as a member of the United States women’s relay teams, three at the 4×400 meters (2008–16), and two at 4 x 100 meters (2012–16). Felix is the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals, and stands tied with Jamaican track and field sprinter, Merlene Ottey, as the most decorated female Olympian in track and field history with a total of nine medals.

Allyson Felix was born on November 18, 1985, in Los Angeles, California. She was raised as a devout Christian by her father Paul, an ordained minister, and her mother Marlean, an elementary school teacher. Felix attended Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills, California, where she was nicknamed “Chicken Legs” by her teammates because of her 5’6” 125-pound sprinter’s body. During her freshman year in high school, Felix tried out for the track team, and a few weeks later, she finished seventh in the 200-meter dash at the CIF California State Meet. She would later become a five-time winner in the meet in the coming seasons.

In 2003 Track and Field News named Felix its national girl High School Athlete of the Year. During her senior year, Felix finished second in the 200 at the U.S Indoor Track and Field Championships. That same year, she made history in Mexico City, Mexico, finishing the 200-meter race in 22.11 seconds, a new world’s record. Felix graduated from high school in 2003 and decided to forego college eligibility to sign a professional contract with Adidas. Later the shoe manufacturer paid her college tuition at the University of Southern California.

At eighteen, Felix won a silver medal in the 200 meter at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, finishing behind Veronica Campbell of Jamaica. In 2005 Felix at twenty became the youngest gold medal sprinter in the 200 meter at the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Two years later, Felix became the second female to win three gold medals at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan. In the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, she took the silver medal in the 200 meter and gold with the woman’s 4×400-meter relay team.

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Felix won her first individual gold medal, beating out Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter in the 200-meter race. Felix also won two gold medals in the 400 x 100-meter relay with teammates Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, and Sanya Richard-Ross. Felix’s first place in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games made her the first American woman to win three gold medals at the Olympics since Florence Griffin Joyner at the 1988 Olympics.

In the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Felix earned a silver medal in the 400-meter race. She also won two gold medals in the 4 x 100 meter relay and 4×400 meter relay along with her U.S teammates. With nine medals—six gold and three silver—Felix became the most decorated woman in U.S track and field history.