Where the streets have Allyson Felix

American sprinter Allyson Felix plans to compete in the 200m and 400m at the US Olympic national trials in June.
American sprinter Allyson Felix plans to compete in the 200m and 400m at the US Olympic national trials in June.

LOS ANGELES • Amid the monotony of quarantine life that people had to put up with due to the outbreak of Covid-19, housebound residents in one corner of Los Angeles were treated to the startling sight of an Olympic champion sprinting down their block at full speed.

The athlete was Olympic six-gold medallist Allyson Felix, America's most decorated track athlete.

With stadiums closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was among dozens of Tokyo hopefuls who resorted to unorthodox training methods as the world went on lockdown and the Tokyo 2020 Games were pushed back a year.

"I've gone for runs before in my neighbourhood but I never have sprinted through the streets," the 35-year-old said during the three-day Team USA virtual media summit.

Felix, who also owns 18 world championship medals and plans to compete in the 200-and 400-metre events at the Olympic national trials in June, said her coach Bob Kersee used a measuring wheel to mark out distances "on literally the street in front of my door".

"Seeing some of my neighbours come out kind of like wondering what's going on and hearing him with his very energetic yelling and all of that - so that's probably been the most bizarre thing," she said.

As the pandemic upended daily life for millions across the country, aspiring Olympians came up with ingenious ways to carry on with some form of training.

Judoka Angelica Delgado resorted to throwing her fiance around their one-bedroom apartment.

Shot putter Ryan Crouser, who won gold at the 2016 Rio Games, went to a hardware store and built his own portable shot put ring, setting up shop at an elementary school and drawing curious stares from passers-by.

"The theme of 2020 was, 'What do we have available?' and not, 'What don't we have available'," he said. "Because there was a pretty short list of what we had."

Flyweight boxer Ginny Fuchs, who won silver in the 2019 Pan American Games and is gunning for a spot in Tokyo, joined a month-long Team USA camp set up inside an abandoned department store.

"They still had shoe racks and everything and the checkout counter," she said.

"It was a little cold because it was in Colorado (and we) had that big snowstorm and there were no heaters. We had to bring in little heaters.

"During this pandemic, you have to figure it out, you have to make things work and we did."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2021, with the headline 'Where the streets have Allyson Felix'. Subscribe