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Felix wins her first individual gold in 200 on big day for American track

United States' Allyson Felix celebrates her win in the women's 200-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
United States' Allyson Felix celebrates her win in the women's 200-meter final during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) AP

LONDON — No more heartbreak for Allyson Felix. No more silver, either.

Denied twice on the world’s biggest stage, Felix won the Olympic gold medal she’s been yearning for, taking the 200 meters Wednesday night to fill the last, and biggest, hole in her otherwise stellar resume.

Felix won the race in 21.88 seconds, topping Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100 four nights earlier, by .21 seconds. American Carmelita Jeter added bronze to go with her silver in the 100 meters.

“I think it was all for a reason,” Felix said. “It kept me motivated and it made this moment very special. It was a big weight being lifted.”

She won easily, leaving nothing to chance — or a coin flip that caused such a flap at Olympic trials — as she hugged the line around the curve, then burst ahead of Fraser-Pryce with 40 meters to go and gave coach Bobby Kersee another gold medal to celebrate.

Finishing fourth was Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, who defeated Felix in the Athens and Beijing Games and was trying to become the first woman to win the same individual track and field event in three consecutive Olympics.

Instead, the Americans were the ones celebrating three straight, their own 15 minutes of fame: Felix, followed quickly by Aries Merritt in the 110 hurdles and Brittney Reese in the long jump.

Felix certainly did her part.

“She’s been trying very hard for this moment,” said Jeter, who became the first U.S. woman to medal in both sprints since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. “When I gave her a hug, that’s exactly what I told her: ‘You’ve waited for this moment.’”

In 2011, Felix and her coach, Bobby Kersee — Joyner-Kersee’s husband — harbored visions of an Olympic double in the 200 and 400 meters. That turned out to be misguided, and at the world championships, Felix settled for silver in the 400 and an uncharacteristic bronze in the 200.

So they decided on a different double — the 100 and 200 — and it wound up causing them an unexpected dose of trouble.

It was the third-place tie in 100-meter qualifying at U.S. trials earlier this summer that hovered over Felix’s run-up to these Olympics — forcing her to defend herself off the track for the first time in an otherwise-pristine career.

Her tie with Jeneba Tarmoh for the third and final spot in the 100 forced USA Track and Field officials to scramble for a solution. One possibility was a coin flip; instead, they settled on a run-off. But Tarmoh begged off. Felix, admittedly not a serious medal contender for the 100, had to defend her decision not to give up the spot, and she went on to finish fifth.

The three heats in the Olympic 100, she said, were the perfect tuneup for the race she really wanted to win.

Also in the race were the Olympic champions at 100 (Fraser-Pryce) and 400 (Sanya Richards-Ross), the two-time defending Olympic champion at 200 (Campbell-Brown) and the reigning world champion at 100 meters (Jeter).

“I don’t think you could ever put eight ladies like that again in a race,” Fraser-Pryce said. “I would never run.”

Had this race been only 140 meters, Fraser-Pryce would have another gold. But Felix has another gear in the 200, and she quickly made up her deficit and then pulled away. When she crossed the line, her reaction was calm. A big smile. Arms raised. Not much else.

Aries Merritt’s hurdling career started on a dare. It took off with a technical change. And it peaked with a gold medal.

The 27-year-old Merritt led a 1-2 finish for the U.S., winning in 12.92 seconds. World champion Jason Richardson was second in 13.04. Hansle Parchment of Jamaica took the bronze in 13.12.

Defending champion Dayron Robles of Cuba pulled up midway through the race, clutching his right hamstring.

Merritt and Richardson gave the U.S. its first gold-silver finish in the event since 1996, when Allen Johnson and Mark Crear claimed the top two spots in Atlanta. No American had won gold since.

Reese knew there was only one place to start looking when it was time to celebrate her Olympic gold medal in the women's long jump.Reese became the first American woman to win the Olympic long jump title since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988.

“It’s a surreal moment,” she said. “I got very emotional — you do when you’re representing your country.

“My mom and aunt are here, so this is a great moment for me and my family.”

The two-time world champion went into the competition with the best jump of the season and put down the best mark in the final with 23 feet, 4 1-2 inches on her second attempt. Russia’s Elena Sokolova took the silver medal at 23-2 1-2 and Janay Deloach earned the bronze for the United States at 22-7 1-4.

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