Allyson Felix Beats Injury to Make her 4th Olympic Team
Allyson Felix beats injury to post the the fastest 400m time of the year and punch her ticket to her 4th Olympic Games in Rio later this Summer. The 6 time Olympic medalist suffered a grade 3 ankle sprain just 8 weeks ago that threatened her dreams of achieving a rare double Gold performance in the Rio Olympic Games. ” 8 weeks ago I couldn’t even walk” she said after her dramatic kick won the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, this past Sunday.
It was In April, just 100 days before the Olympics, when I received a call from my long time colleague, and the most decorated track and field coach of all time, Bobby Kersee. It was one of those panicked calls that had unspoken consequences for the athlete, the coach, and the US Track and Field team – Americas most decorated female sprinter, with over 20 Olympic and World Championships to her name had suffered a catastrophic ankle injury with the potential to dash her plans to cement her Olympic legacy in Rio.
On my way to the airport to support another Olympic Gold medalist, Henry Cejudo in his bid to win a UFC world championship in Mixed Martial Arts,I immediately turned back to meet Allyson and Bobby at my office to asses the damage. Once it became obvious that there was no fracture, Coach Kersee and I drew on our 35 year history of working together to get athletes to the starting line, injury free and in peak condition. This set into motion a well honed comprehensive program of recovery and training; because injuries are part of the game. After three decades, 8 Olympics, and over 50 Olympic Medals, we know striving to produce the fastest times in the world runs the risk of injury, and sometimes, its about treating unexpected injuries, and saving careers.There were two-a-day physical therapy treatment sessions to control the inflammation and swelling which leads to excessive scar tissue and limits the joint range of motion creating more dysfunction. There were workouts in the pool and on the bike to maintain fitness. There was an over night trip to NY on a sponsor’s corporate jet to accompany Allyson on a press junket, so that we did not miss precious treatment time. There were commutes from Los Angles to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista on the Mexican border to monitor her progress and watch Coach Kersee’s innovative workouts (running the track in the reverse direction to minimize the stress on her inured right ankle.) There were many phychologically challenging moments too.
Without competing in any of the major meets that typically prepare athletes for the Olympic trials, Allyson would have to find the courage and the faith in her medical team and coach to trust she would be ready. The ankle progressed and the stop watch proved her fitness was not only preserved, but also advanced with the grueling water workouts and the ancillary strength work we did to build her core and hip musculature.
Sunday night she put all the worry to rest with nothing less than a stellar final 100 meter kick that brought her from fifth place coming out of the final curve to cross the finish line first with her competitors several meters behind. Allyson’s gutsy performance now allows us to continue our quest for more Olympic gold and her the chance to be the greatest female sprinter of all time!