Since 2004, one of the best competitive rivalries in women’s track and field has been between U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix and Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown in the 200-meter dash.
Felix won three consecutive world championship titles over Campbell-Brown in 2005, 2007 and 2009, but in her first two Olympic matchups versus her rival, Felix earned two consecutive silver medals. On Wednesday, Felix finally broke through, finishing first in the 200 to win her third consecutive Olympic medal, but her first-ever gold.
Felix entered the London Games as the favorite for gold, as the only woman who had broken 22 seconds prior to the Games. As it turned out, she was the only woman to break that barrier in the final with a time of 21.88 seconds.
That said, while Felix was the favorite to win this year, her victory was very much a long time coming. Felix had already built a tremendous legacy as one of the all-time best 200 runners, having won three world championships and two silver medals. But her career was incomplete without an individual Olympic gold, something she had never won (she did win gold in 2008 as a member of the U.S. 4x400-meter relay team).
Felix, who had already made history by becoming the first woman to ever win three consecutive IAAF World Championships titles in the 200, is now the first woman to ever medal in three consecutive Olympic 200s, as Campbell-Brown only placed fourth on Wednesday.
Felix has clearly demonstrated tremendous staying power as a 200 runner over the past eight years, and winning an individual Olympic gold was the only major title that had eluded her until it happened on Wednesday. With that said, Felix is only 26 years old, which means she could certainly continue to be a major contender in the 200 through at least the 2016 Rio Games.
Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey is the only woman who has four Olympic 200 medals, and she never won gold. If Felix can come back in Rio to win her fourth consecutive Olympic medal, she will cement her status as one of the greatest to ever run the event.
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Dan Hope is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist covering the 2012 Olympic Games. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Hope.