XX Factor


Dec 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Los Angeles, California

WHY SHE RULES: College freshman Allyson Felix has gotten used to being called the next Marion Jones. As track-and-field's newest phenom, she was the first high school runner to entirely forgo college competition (along with her athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California) in order to turn pro. At L.A.'s Baptist High, she was nicknamed "Chicken Legs" by her teammates; the majority of the five-foot-six, 125-pound sprinter's body is a skinny bottom half. But her slightness belies her strength (she can dead-lift 250 pounds and power-clean 150) and speed. In a two-week span last spring, Felix—in only her fourth year of competitive track—ran the 200 meters in 22.51 seconds, breaking Jones's high school record (22.67, set in 1992). Then, at the Grand Prix Banamex meet, in Mexico City, she clocked 22.11 in the same event, a junior world record. Just before a disappointing showing at September's 2003 World Championships, in Paris, where she failed to advance past the quarterfinals, Felix signed a six-year sponsorship deal with Adidas, which will pay her an undisclosed sum and pick up her college tuition. "It was really hard to tell the coaches I'm not going to compete for USC," she says, "but my goal is the Athens Olympics, and I have to focus on that." SAYS WHO: "I can see why she's compared to Marion Jones," says Angie Taylor, Felix's coach on the 2003 U.S. national team, "but I just see her as Allyson Felix, and I see her as being phenomenal." IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY: Felix, who's majoring in elementary education at USC, shares an off-campus apartment with her older brother, Wes, a junior and the reigning 200-meter Pac-10 champion. FORWARD SPIN: She may be in for a July showdown with Jones in the 200 meters at the Olympic Trials in Sacramento; if all goes her way, Felix will live up to her own name at Athens in August, not somebody else's. —DIMITY MCDOWELL