Recalled from retirement, Allyson Felix helps women’s 4×400 relay reach world championship final

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EUGENE, Ore. — Enjoying retired life, Allyson Felix was eating chicken wings and sipping a beer tank in Los Angeles when the phone rang.

We needed her in Oregon for the women’s 4×400 relay preliminaries. Could she return to the world championships? She was on her way.

The most decorated sprinter in United States history hopped on a plane and was on the track Saturday night for the “last” time to help the Americans advance to the Finals.

And she is retiring. She said she would watch the women’s 4×400 final on Sunday from the seats.

That’s the plan – for now. She had the fastest single-lap split time of her teammates as the United States posted the fastest qualifying time of 3 minutes, 23.38 seconds.

“From what I know,” Felix, 36, said of whether this was really the end. “But you know, what do I know?

Last Friday, she went through a moving emotion after helping the 4×400 mixed relay team win a bronze medal. That was supposed to be it.

She returned to Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards and had some hot wings when she was called to the runway for an encore performance.

Talitha Diggs ran the opener for the United States before handing over to Felix. She circled the track and handed over to Kaylin Whitney, the sprinter who grew up idolizing Felix. Jaide Stepter Baynes brought it home.

“It’s kind of come full circle, literally,” Whitney said as he passed the baton to Felix. “To be able to race alongside her, as well as these other great ladies, is always a privilege. I couldn’t be happier.”

Shortly after his run, Felix crouched down by the dashboard, then sat down on the grass to watch. When it was over, she hugged her teammates.

“I was on the right path (towards retirement),” said Felix, who had her Saysh pointe shoes – a shoe company she started – hanging from her shoulder. “I had no intention of coming back here for the rest of the competition. But things happen. I felt good. It was really cool to run when the stadium was full and get all the love, and to race with this incredible group of women. It’s really prepared the team to go for the title.”

The American contingent in the final numbers will be world 400-meter hurdles champion Sydney McLaughlin, fresh off her world record on Friday, and Dalilah Muhammad, who won bronze in the race. They were part of the winning 4×400 team at the Tokyo Games. Just like Felix and Athing Mu. But Mu has the 800 final on the same day.

Is there a chance that Felix will leave the seats to run again?

“I was asked to participate in the preliminaries,” Felix said.

Should the group win a medal – the team is a big favorite – it would be Felix’s 20th medal at the world championships, extending a record she already held. She also has 11 Olympic medals.

“It was just about being a team player and putting them in a position to do their best (Sunday),” Felix said.

His immediate plans revolve around one thing: more hot wings.

“I only had a few,” Felix said. “I will finish them now.”

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