Allison Felix didn’t know exactly how she wanted to start or end her farewell tour.
He knew the Tokyo Games would mark his last Olympic appearance. He won his 11th career medal in an empty stadium, surpassing Carl Lewis to become the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in Olympic history.
“It was harder than I thought,” he said in an interview. “A lot of people were like, oh, it would be amazing to finish at home on home soil in Oregon.”
Turns out, a lot of people were right.
Hayward Field erupted when she took the baton from Elijah Godwin for the second leg of the medley 4×400-meter relay Friday evening in Eugene.
In his first 200m, he was in a league of his own entirely, as he has been for his storied career.
“There was a moment where I was going to break, and I heard cheers,” Felix said. “And it was really cool. It was special. Obviously you’re competing, but I felt the love and the joy of running tonight.”
He slowed down in the last few meters, perhaps from exhaustion, perhaps from the realization that his long career and his farewell tour were also coming to an end. “The first thing I felt was lactic acid,” he said of handing the baton to Vernon Norwood. “But after that, just joy.”
The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he finished the final competitive run.
It doesn’t matter if the USA wins the gold. It was Felix’s victory lap. In the moments after the race, opposing athletes approached him for photos, handshakes and fist bumps. He left an unparalleled legacy, winning another World Championship medal, his 19th, extending his record for most medals at the World Championships.
And she left behind more, as a mother who rewrote the way pregnant athletes and parents are considered and treated in sports.
He took it all in on Friday night. The crowd, the echoing cheers, the signs, the medal around his neck, the feeling of seeing his daughter Camryn in the stands.
“I think I felt all the emotions. And I’m not emotional as a person,” he said. “I think there were a few moments tonight where I looked around and made a memory.”
At the end of the evening, with an American flag wrapped around his back, he looked around the track in Eugene, waved to the crowd and moved on to the next phase of his life.
Her daughter Camryn had already stopped eating ice cream. Felix seems ready to join him.
Scott Cacciola Contribution reporting.