On the homepage of her website, Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix offers this proverbial wisdom: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
It’s that refrain the track star and world champion in the 200-meter sprint takes with her each time she hits the blocks. And it’s that same level of grace and commitment through which the 25-year-old daughter of an ordained minister and college theology professor finds her overall strength and guidance.
“My faith is the reason I run. It calms my heart,” says Felix, a self-professed devout Christian. “My speed is definitely a gift from Him, and I run for His glory. Whatever I do, He allows me to do it.”
And yes, it seems safe to say Felix has found her calling, and that the University of Southern California grad is in the midst of all her glory.
Among other distinctions, the four-time U.S. champ in the 200 also holds the fastest 4×400 relay time since Florence Griffith-Joyner. Indeed, that seems quite the distance from the days of her humble beginnings when, as a high school student, the 5-6, 125-pound novice was teased as “chicken legs.”
By graduation, those taunts had turned to cheers when Felix ranked as a five-time California state prep champ and had eclipsed Marion Jones’ 11-year-old state record in her bread-and-butter event.
WATCH ALLYSON FELIX PROFILED ON NIGHTLY NEWS DURING THE 2008 SUMMER OLYMPICS IN BEIJING
A few weeks after that, she laced up before more than 50,000 spectators in the famed Mexico City Olympic Stadium that once hosted “Bob Beamon”:http://www.olympic.org/en/content/Olympic-Athletes/All-Athletes/Athletes-BA-to-BM/-Bob-Beamon-/, Tommie Smith and John Carlos. There, she easily held her own against an international field of many more experienced qualifiers.
With the first leg of her career so gloriously behind her, Felix pondered long and hard over what course she should take next. Soon she came to the somewhat unorthodox decision of foregoing her collegiate eligibility and signing a pro contract with Adidas that included her tuition to USC.
“Education is a priority,” Paul Felix told U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s “Project Believe” program, which subjects her to random drug testing at any time, all in the name of illustrating that her body is free of performance-enhancing drugs.
“God gave me this ability,” the athlete told Sports Illustrated in 2003. “I’m trying to be the best I can with it.” With three Olympic medals under her belt, Felix’s best seems to put her ahead of the rest.