ABC Foreign Correspondent: For Greater Glory (Germany)
The shining lightEight years ago, Allyson Felix sat in front of the television watching fellow Californian Marion Jones attempt to win five Olympic medals and was inspired to take up athletics seriously. She is referring to the clomifen dosierung nach kur that Jones, who did win five medals in German steroids olympics games, three of them gold, is serving a six-month prison sentence for lying to federal investigators about taking performance-enhancing drugs, an admission ga,es led to her being stripped german steroids olympics games her Olympic medals and banned from the sport. We just didn't think it could be true. Jones grew up close to where the Felix family live now. I trusted in her and believed in her. I looked up to her.
Schneider wants record erased because of doping
Eight years ago, Allyson Felix sat in front of the television watching fellow Californian Marion Jones attempt to win five Olympic medals and was inspired to take up athletics seriously. She is referring to the fact that Jones, who did win five medals in Sydney, three of them gold, is serving a six-month prison sentence for lying to federal investigators about taking performance-enhancing drugs, an admission that led to her being stripped of her Olympic medals and banned from the sport.
We just didn't think it could be true. Jones grew up close to where the Felix family live now. I trusted in her and believed in her. I looked up to her. She let a lot of people down. What has happened to Jones and some other American runners, including the father of Jones's child, Tim Montgomery, means athletics is now desperately searching for someone it can trust in.
Felix is now trying desperately to repair the damage caused to the sport by the woman who inspired her to take it up in the first place. Along with several other prominent US athletes, including world and metres champion Tyson Gay, year-old Felix is a member of Project Believe, involving taking voluntary out-of-competition extra drugs tests to try to prove they are clean. I don't want anyone to have any doubts about what I achieve. Along with Gay, Felix is at the forefront of a new generation of young bright things who, it is hoped, will illuminate the sport at the Olympics in Beijing, which open next month, and beyond, all the way to London Felix will be chasing another three gold medals in Beijing in the m and the 4xm and 4xm relays, the same one's she won in Osaka when she became only the second woman after East Germany's Marita Koch to complete a hat-trick of titles.
A plan to try to emulate Fanny Blankers-Koen, the Dutch housewife who won a record four gold medals in the Olympics in London, had to be shelved after Felix failed to finish in the first three of the m in the ultra-competitive US trials earlier this month and the timetable did not allow her to compete in the m. I was going through a learning experience and I took it off with that. I tried to learn everything that I could and just take everything in and so now I can use what I've learned in this Olympics.
Things could have turned out very different for Felix if she had not listened to her father, Paul, when she switched coaches four years ago. Her long-time partnership with Pat Connolly, who in had coached Evelyn Ashford to the world record in the m, had come to an end after she won a silver medal in the m at the Olympics in Athens and she was searching for someone to guide her.
She wanted to join the group of Trevor Graham, whose star was in the ascendency at the time, having just coached Justin Gatlin and Shawn Crawford to the Olympic gold medals in the m and m respectively, but he already had a reputation within the sport of doping his athletes, despite being the man who blew the whistle on the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative Balco by sending the syringe containing the, until then, undetectable designer anabolic steroid tetrahydrogestrinone - THG - to the authorities.
It has proved a lucky escape for Felix as she has since seen a succession of leading sprinters implicated in doping scandals, including Montgomery, Jones and Gatlin. In May, Graham was found guilty of lying to FBI agents about his involvement in the Balco scandal and faces joining Montgomery and Jones in prison, although he is appealing.
We feel that it is important that she has a coach who has a clean record. She instead joined Bob Kersee, who coached Florence Griffith-Joyner to the world m and m records 20 years ago, performances that many believe were drug-assisted. But Kersee insists that the drugs crisis in the sport is overblown. On the day that The Observer visited Felix at her training base at the University of California in Los Angeles UCLA along with several other international journalists, it was probably no coincidence that a team of drug testers from the United States Anti-Doping Agency turned up to ask her to provide a sample.
Felix comes from a deeply religious family and her father is a preacher, a man with a deep booming voice who inspires loyalty and respect from those close to him and those who have just met him. A few hours after arriving at Los Angeles airport, The Observer follows the Felix family in their top-of-the-range Mercedes to Rialto, about miles north of Valencia, where Paul and Allyson are top billing at a special Fathers' Day breakfast organised by a local church. Allyson speaks animatedly and passionately for several minutes about her father, a man with whom she clearly has a very close bond.
When Paul gets up to speak, he is under no illusions about who the star is in this double act. His sermon, though, contains a powerful message.
Back at the house over a glass of orange squash, Marlean is keen to get out all the scrapbooks that she has been collecting about Allyson since she started becoming successful. She strokes the first ribbon her daughter won as a year-old as tenderly as she does her gold medals - which also include one for the world m title in - or two prestigious Jesse Owens awards, given annually to America's top athlete.
Marlean also laughs as she recalls how Allyson wanted to be a cheerleader when the family lived in Colorado before moving to California and she missed her opportunity. But considering how well things have worked out, it's just as well we moved. Allyson also missed her prom night because it clashed with a big meeting. It was fun hanging out with my friends and then getting on the track and running fast. She lives just a few minutes away from her parents, sharing a house with her brother Wes and her pet Yorkshire terrier, who is called Chloe.
Wes is also a talented runner and finished second in the m at the world junior championships behind Usain Bolt, now the world-record holder for the m.
Wes is ill and not competing, although he does not appear to harbour any jealously. Wes appears more upset that he can never beat his sister at Guitar Hero on their Xbox. Paul Felix admits he is surprised that he has fathered two such fast children. What they have achieved has gone beyond anything we expected. Thanks to her lucrative shoe contract and her winnings last year, Felix comfortably earns a six-figure income.
Yet she still lives fairly modestly and is still hanging out at the local restaurant with the same group of friends she has had since high school, and occasionally going to the bowling alley with her boyfriend, Kenneth Ferguson, a m hurdler. The Drake Stadium is located just m from Bel Air, with its multi-million-dollar mansions that are the homes of Hollywood movie stars.
But there is nothing flashy about Felix. Dressed in a sponsor's grey top and grey tights she completes her warm-up alongside recreational joggers and walkers from the university, waving and chatting to everyone.
Felix is so slightly built at 5ft 6in and just under nine stone that the rest of her training group tease her, calling her 'chicken legs', but her determination during a two-hour training session is immense. She wants to get a drink of water after finishing one repetition in temperatures in the 80s, but Kersee will not let her and sends her round the track again immediately.
She glares at him, but completes it in her best time of the day. She's an exciting person to work with. She's such a graceful athlete. I feel I have been blessed by being given the opportunity to coach her. Joanna Hayes, the Olympic m hurdles champion who trains alongside Felix, is in awe of her friend's strength. She doesn't have any limits it seems. Kersee has been around long enough to see every great American sprinter of the last half-century.
He compares Felix to Wilma Rudolph, the Olympic m and m champion. Allyson's a modern-day Wilma Rudolph when her legs get pumping'. Felix does not spend much time thinking about how someone seemingly so frail can propel herself over the track so quickly.
Winning medals doesn't motivate me - it's the accomplishment of having done it; that is what I enjoy. I want to be successful but, just as importantly, I want people to believe in me. Allyson's a modern-day Wilma Rudolph when her legs get pumping' Felix does not spend much time thinking about how someone seemingly so frail can propel herself over the track so quickly. Topics Olympics The Observer. Athletics Marion Jones Olympic Games.
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