Allyson Felix was enjoying hot wings and a root beer float at her favourite LA restaurant when she got the call. Would she come out of retirement for an encore?
The answer was emphatic. As was her performance in the women’s 4x400m relay heats after she arrived back in Eugene. The 35-year-old ran 50.61sec – the fastest in the US team – as the Americans won their heat in 3:23.38, ahead of Great Britain, to qualify for the final on Sunday.
After Hayward Field roared its approval once again, Felix explained how her unlikely return came about. “I was at Halloween’s cafe, one of my favourite cheat-meal restaurants,” she said.
“I was having hot wings and a root beer float, and I was just diving into that when I got a phone call. They just asked if I would be willing to come back and run a round and help the team get a position, and so I dropped the wing.”
Felix said there was no hesitation. She talked to her coach Bobby Kersee for some workouts and then got on a plane. “To me it is an honour to come here and run in front of a home crowd and help the team,” she said. “That is what it is all about. Bobby gave me a couple more workouts and then I jumped on a plane to head back here.”
And while Felix does not expect to start in the final, she will get a medal if the US team finish in the top three. “This is a moment I will never forget, ending my career with the roar of the crowd,” she said.
Elsewhere on the penultimate day of the world championships, a number of Tigray protestors marched around the Hayward Field concourse after Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay’s 5,000m gold medal. “End Tigray genocide,” they chanted at the end. One protester also ran on to the track holding a Tigray flag.
Tsegay, who had won a 1500m silver early in these championships, won in a brilliant sprint finish as the world record-holder Letesenbet Gidey faded down the straight to miss the podium. Kenyan Beatrice Chebet won silver and the Ethiopian Dawit Seyaum claimed bronze.
In the men’s 800m, Kenya’s Olympic champion Emmanuel Korir ran a textbook tactical race to win in 1:43.71, with the Algerian Djamel Sedjati taking a surprise silver ahead of Canada’s Marco Arop.
“I knew there were some guys close behind me in the last 100m,” Korir said. “I was expecting someone to come, but no one did.”
Elsewhere, Grenada’s Anderson Peters beat the Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra to retain his world javelin title, saving his best for last with a throw of 90.54 metres after leading the competition throughout.
Portugal’s Pedro Pichardo continued his dominance in the men’s triple jump by adding his first world championship title to his Olympic gold with a world-leading 17.95m.