Today American sprinter Allyson Felix will compete for gold in the 400-meter race, after finishing first in Sunday’s semifinals. If Felix wins a medal in today’s race, she will surpass her mentor Jackie Joyner-Kersee for the most career medals by an American female track and field athlete. Felix’s journey to Rio hasn’t been without adversity, as she sustained an ankle injury while training in the spring, and after a slow healing process she failed to qualify for the 200-meter race, her favorite event, at this year’s Games. We caught up with Felix to hear more about her Olympic experience and how she has prepared herself for her shot at a fifth gold medal.
What was your mental strategy going into the Rio Olympics?
It’s been really different this year, as I have been dealing with a pretty devastating injury. Mentally, I just try to be strong and rely on my love for the sport and know that the amount of work I’ve put in to this sport throughout my life will guide me.
What was your morning routine leading up to Rio? And in Rio?
I don’t wake up really early. I’m usually up by 7 or 7:30, then have a relaxed morning—catch up on tasks and errands. Mornings in Rio I usually get up, head to the track, then get some kind of massage or chiropractic work; I’ve just been getting my final preparations in!
How had your training plan changed going into these Games compared to previous Olympics or world championships?
It was definitely more intense. When I was injured my training had to be altered. I had to do a lot of rehab, spend time in the pool and on the bike, so the training definitely got more creative than ever before.
What has been your experienced in Rio so far? Any funny stories from traveling, commuting, or hanging out with other athletes in the Village?
The favorite has been opening ceremony and walking with everybody.
What are your plans to celebrate post-Olympics?
Definitely going on a vacation. I love the Caribbean so maybe I’ll go there. And just relaxing, doing nothing, enjoying being still.
What has kept you focused in the days leading up to the track and field competitions in Rio?
Having my support system here in Rio, being able to be around them and eat with them or just hang out. That makes it feel like I have a little piece of home with me, which makes me more comfortable and relaxed.
Can you tell us about the role your mom has played in this journey?
It’s been special being a P&G Bounty athlete and taking part in their Thank You, Mom campaign because my mom is one of the greatest drivers of strength in my life. She has always pushed me to reach my best potential, so being a part of it allows me to say thank you to her for everything she has ever done for me.