USA’s Allyson Felix and Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown have been contesting the 200 metres World Number 1 spot since 2004, with one or the other of them in pole position every year since. Between them they have divided up every major title going – Felix is the three times world champion, Campbell-Brown the two times Olympic champion.
let’s take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce about this amazing rivalry:
Athens Olympics, 2004
At 18 years old Allyson Felix was already a favorite for the gold at the Athens Olympics. Veronicah Campbell Brown was also in good form. Felix was in lane 3 and Brown in lane 4. at the gun Veronicah came away running. it was like she had been shot out of a cannon and at the bend was already in the lead. Felix tried to stay in touch and make some ground in the straight away. Veronicah’s lead proved too far to catch. try as allyson did she couldn’t catch the run away Jamaican but she finished strongly in second place in a world junior record time.
World championships 2005, Helsinki
Next up were the IAAF World championships in Helsinki and this rivalry was getting heated up. Felix came in as the fastest in the world that year and her confidence was pretty strong. felix in lane 6 and brown in lane 7. Brown relied on her super fast start for victory but into the bend she had put too much. She was stressed as she tried to keep with the rest of the leaders even striding a little out of her lane. As the rest of the field tightened up in the last fifty meters. Felix held up her technique and gracefully glided past brown on her right and Christine Arroy of France on her left. Winning the race at the age of 19 made her the first teenager to win an individual sprint title at the championships.
World Championships 2007, Osaka
Felix hoped to retain her world title and Campbell was looking to get the title to accompany her Olympic title she had won three years earlier in Athens. Felix was in lane 5 and brown in lane 6. Both started off well at the bend the two were touch but it is at the straightway that race was won. Not letting Brown getting too far ahead at the bend, Felix was able to put on another gear demonstrating great speed endurance to coast home in a P.B time of 21.81. The margin was the largest ever won in a 200m race in a world championship.
Olympics 2008, Beijing
Veronicah was the defending Olympic champion and Felix two time world champion. The show down had reached its climax. Both determined to build their portfolios with Felix looking to advance her silver medal from the previous Olympics to a gold medal. This time Felix was in lane 4 and Brown in lane 3. At the gun, Brown employed her customary shot out of a cannon start and had already made ground on Felix at the turn. Shooting for home she had slight margin over Felix who was trying frantically to close it. This was not to happen as Brown held on and won the gold in fast time of 21.74. The competition between these two athletes really motivated them to run fast times.
World Championships, 2009 Berlin
Fresh off her Olympics triumph Veronicah was looking to dethrone Felix from the world championships mantle. Felix was in lane 6 and Brown in lane 5. Off the bend Brown made some ground on Felix but as they came into the turn Felix sensed danger not letting Brown get to far ahead. Neck on neck at the turn it was a battle to see who would break first. Allyson held her from and pulled away from Veronicah to win her third successive world title and Brown gold the silver again.
World Championships, 2011 Daegu
Felix was a double hunt in the 400m and 200m. it became unstuck as she got silver in the 400m. Lining up for the 200m she was in lane 3 and Brown in lane 5. Brown made the early move at the gun and had slight lead coming into the bend. She held off an attack by Carmelita Jeter of the USA and won the race. Felix finished in third. It was Brown’s first World championship gold medal. An emotional time it was after three championships of coming so close yet so far.
London Olympics, 2012
Felix was hoping for a breakthrough of her own in London running the 100m and 200m same as Brown. Brown got bronze in the 100m and Felix finished fifth. It was good for Allyson as she was more focused on the 200m. Allyson lane 7 and Brown was in lane 5. At the gun of the 200m they had pretty even start and at the bend they were shoulder to shoulder. With 80 meters to go it was Felix with Brown and Fraser-Pryce who was looking for a double. In the last 30 meters Felix pulled ahead and won her elusive gold medal in 21.88. Fraser-Pryce was second and Jeter of the USA third.
No non-fiction writer would have scripted that rivalry better. From disappointments to victories and head to head battles. This is one track rivalry that has kept us entertained for the best part of a decade.