She’s 36 now. It’s no surprise that a woman eleven years younger than her Marileidyne Paulino from the winning Dominican Republic team, eventually caught her attention. There’s no shame, too to think that it was the U.S., saving the remainder of its famed superstar power for the big events over the nine days of this event placed second in mixed 4×400 meters relay, just ahead of the Netherlands.
The third-place finish gave Felix her 19th gold medal at the world championships, which surpassed the record she held previously. In addition to the 11 she’s already won at the Olympics and she’ll finish her career with a total of 30 medals at the sport’s most prestigious occasions.
Some may say that a bronze medal is an insult to the most famous athlete throughout U.S. history. Some, like Felix herself, have compared it to the bronze medal she took home in the women’s 400 in the Tokyo Olympics -which she regards with her greatest accomplishments.
“It’s a similar emotion,” she explained. “The last couple of years, I’ve stepped outside of just the clock and the medals, and I never would have imagined that would have been a place where I would come to.”
The shy teenager of the past has become a vocal advocate for mothers and women regardless of sports. The reason for that is becoming a mom, fighting, and finally going away from Nike who reduced her earnings during her pregnancy.
Felix was also a victim of an emergency C-section just eight weeks before the due date. This left Felix and their daughter Cammy fighting for their lives in a hospital bed. Running at all or medals is a nice bonus in this moment.
“There’s not one single story that can explain the impact that she had on the sport,” said Elijah Godwin, who ran the first leg and was the final teammate to pass the baton over to Felix. “Over the span of the years she did it, she became an icon, and for us to come out and compete with her, it’s a blessing to have that opportunity.”
Google was involved. A search for Felix’s name Friday night revealed all her credentials, accompanied by a cartoon of her sprinting across the screen of the computer, followed by the phrase “Olympian. Mother. Advocate.”
This was the perfect ending for her mom she, Felix said, was definitely out and about eating ice cream right after the race, and not waiting for her mom to wrap up interviews.
Felix was the only one to be entered as a mixed relay, after having failed to make it to the world championships as an individual. As her race was declared at start of the event the event, the crowd of two-thirds full at the inaugural world championships that will be hosted at the United States cheered as loudly as they did throughout the night.
until, at that point, she reached the backstretch.
Godwin had a small advantage after he took the baton. For the first 200 metres of her final run through the circuit, Felix extended the margin. The arms were pumping and knees were pumping with that perfect form that only belongs to her. But she began to fade as she came to her final curve. She was taken down by Paulino.
The feelings she felt as they crossed the border?
“The first thing I felt was lactic acid,” she explained.
Vernon Norwood recaptured the lead on the third leg but the Domincan’s fiordaliza Cofil beat American Kennedy Simon on the anchor, and the hurdler Femke Bol led a colossal late charge to win the Netherlands the silver. It was the Dominican Republic won in 3 minutes, 9.82 seconds, with an advantage in the region of 0.08 seconds.
“I’ve defeated her two times,” said Paulino who placed second in the 400-meter race in Tokyo. “But for me she will always be the best in the world. She has opened a better path for all of us.”
The U.S. finished in 3:10.16. The statistics sheet says Felix completed her final 400m within 50.15 seconds. This isn’t even close to the 47.72-second split she achieved in a gold-medal winning 4×400 at the world championships of 2015it’s still the fastest ever run for an American woman, but that’s not the goal.
“It just feels like we’re part of history,” Godwin stated. “And to have a picture with her, that’s the most important to me. I just want my picture with her, and to be remembered for this.”
Felix’s most recent medal came on the opening day, which also included heats in the 100 meters for men.
American Fred Kerley, last year’s Olympic silver medalist, completed his run in 9.79 seconds — an incredibly fast time for a first-round race that was just 0.03 off his previous season’s best and 0.01 quicker over Italian Marcel Jacobs’ victory last year in Tokyo.
The other prominent names in the field: Jacobs, Marvin Bracy, Olympic bronze medalist Andre De Grasse and 2011 World champion Yohan Blake, and Christian Coleman, who is trying to defend his world title after being unable to compete in the Olympics due to suspension due to missing doping tests.
The first medals of the meet came in the race walk that lasted 20 km in which Kimberly Garcia won Peru’s first-ever medal at the world championships with 1:26:28. Toshikazu Yamanishi from Japan has successfully defended his title for men in 1:19.07.
It was also the night’s last medals all of us in Hayward Field will remember.
Felix smiled broadly and smiled broadly as World Athletics president Sebastian Coe placed the bronze on her neck. Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, on hand to present the award, shaked her hand.
Felix stood straight while her country’s Dominican republic’s national song played. However, she was a winner. Her last race on the top-end race was in her home country with her daughter in the crowd to observe.
“Obviously, I’m not in the prime of my career, but to be able to finish here tonight, with Cammy in the stands, and to share that moment with her, it means a lot,” Felix stated.