Athletics-Queen of the track Felix soaking in ‘full circle’ moment before retiring

By Amy Tennery

EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) – Veteran American sprinter Allyson Felix’s 10th and final world championships will serve as a “full circle” moment for the most decorated woman in track, as she brings the curtain down on one of the most dazzling careers in athletics.

The 11-times Olympic medalist announced plans to retire a year ago and leaves the sport as the undisputed queen of American athletics, with 18 world medals already to her name.

She can expect a hero’s sendoff from the home crowd in Eugene, Oregon, where she is widely expected to run the 4×400 metres mixed relay on Friday as the United States hosts the international meet for the first time.

“It’s just completely full circle to be able to come here to end at home. It’s just going to be very, very special,” she said on Thursday.

“I am going to miss it so much, but I can’t think of a better way to go out than just with a heart full of gratitude and just really thankful for all the people who have supported me.”

The 36-year-old rocked the Olympic landscape when she collected her first medal, a silver in the 200 metres, at just 18 years old at the 2004 Athens Games. She kept up her career through Tokyo last year, where she collected bronze in the 400 metres and gold in the women’s 4×400 metres relay.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” she told reporters. “I love this sport so much. It’s broken my heart many times, but I’ve also had many really joyous moments.”

Many of Felix’s American teammates grew up admiring her with 21-year-old heptathlete Anna Hall telling reporters she had Felix’s poster in her bedroom.

“Just the way you carried yourself your entire career has really just set a great example for the rest of the girls in America to follow,” said Hall, the collegiate champion, who appeared alongside Felix at a USATF press conference.

‘REALLY EMOTIONAL’

Her final campaign saw her training with a young relay pool, for whom her wealth of knowledge and experience could pay dividends.

“We’ve been having a really fun time,” said Felix. “I just get to talk to people and get to share.”

A street race in her hometown of Los Angeles is set for next month to celebrate the end of her career.

But as she takes a final turn around the track at Hayward Field in Oregon, an era will end.

“It’s going to be really emotional,” Felix said. “I don’t quite know what to expect, but I’m just going to take it all in. I’m going to have fun.

“And it’s the last run for me, so I’m going to leave it all out there.”

The World Athletics Championships will run from July 15-24.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Eugene, Oregon; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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