Allyson Felix wound up on the wrong end of two close finishes this year, each altering her Olympic legacy. However, Shaunae Miller’s gold medal-saving lunge/dive at the finish line of tonight’s 400-meter dash still left Felix with a historic place in United States track and field lore.
With the silver medal she collected Monday night, the versatile 30-year-old four-time Olympian set the U.S. track and field record for most medals collected in a career. She broke heptathlete and long jumper Jackie Joyner-Kersee’s mark set from 1984-96.
The 2012 200-meter Olympic champion, Felix now has four gold medals and three silvers in an Olympic career that spans back to the Athens Games in 2004, when she competed as an 18-year-old. She said coming into her fourth Olympics the Rio Games would be her final Olympic effort.
The 22-year-old Miller, of The Bahamas, finished second behind Felix at the 2015 world championships in the 400 and held a big lead on the final stretch Monday night. While the seasoned Olympian nearly made up the difference, she lost out to an exhausted Miller’s dive at the finish line. Her 49.44-second finish outdistanced Felix by .07 of a second.
Felix knows this feeling since at the U.S. Trials last month she lost out on a chance to defend her 200 title when teammate Jenna Prandini lunged at the tape and tumbled to the track, taking third place — Team USA takes the top three — by .01 of a second.
Also a nine-time world champion (2005, ’07, ’09 in the 200, ’15 in the 400, with five relay golds mixed in), Felix claimed her previous two silvers in the 2004 and ’08 200s, losing to Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown both times. The Los Angeles native avenged that defeat by edging Campbell-Brown in 2012.
Felix did not have a chance to attempt a double individual effort due largely to a weightlifting injury in April restricting her 2016 season but will have a chance to win her fifth gold medal as part of Team USA’s 4×400-meter relay team. Technically, she’s also eligible for the 4×100 relay, an event she helped to gold in a world-record time in 2012. But not competing in the 100 at the Trials makes that spot murky.