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SPRINT CHAMP TRYING TO DECIDE ON U.S., WORLD INDOOR MEETS AT OREGON CONVENTION CENTER



TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: DAVID BLAIR - Olympic and world champion Allyson Felix loves the idea of Portland being the host of the 2016 U.S. and World Indoor championships, but she still has to figure out if she'll compete.Allyson Felix sounds as if she would like to compete for the first time ever in Portland in a pair of major track and field events -- the U.S. and World Indoor Championships in March.

But the reigning Olympic 200 and world 400 champion can't make any promises.

"I just don't know," says Felix, who visited Portland on Tuesday as part of an athletes panel that met with IAAF representatives to help plan the U.S. and World events that will take place at the Oregon Convention Center. "I would love to, but we'll see how everything is going training-wise."

Felix would have to get a qualifying time for the U.S. meet through the indoor season, then finish among the top three in an event to make it to the World Championships the following week.

The Los Angeles native trains with legendary coach Bobby Kersee, who typically uses the indoor season to train his athletes for the outdoor campaign. And next year's outdoor season concludes with the Olympic Games at Rio de Janeiro.

Indoor track is a different animal than the outdoor version. There is a 60-meter dash and a 400, and nothing in between.

"My 60 isn't that strong, and the 400 indoors becomes a different event altogether," Felix says. "I'll have to talk to Bobby. He might want to throw me in some 400s, but I don't know. I'm not sure if I would do that.

"We're looking at what the schedule looks like. We're going to work on some things and being that there's no 200 indoors, see if I'm working on the 60."

Since it's an Olympic year, "a lot of people are going to be taking (the indoor season) very seriously," Felix says. The U.S. team for the World Indoor Championships "is going to be a difficult team to make. If I have the opportunity, I will try to make the team, but it will depend on the schedule."

The World Indoor Championships will be held for only the second time in the U.S., and for the first time since 1987.

"It's great that it's in Portland," Felix says. "When we go to the World Championships or the Olympic Games, I've always been a little jealous of those athletes. They get on the starting line and you hear this huge applause. Then (the introductions) get to you and it's like, OK, very little response.

"It's such a cool thing that we have this meet in the U.S. It's about time. It's long overdue. I'm excited about it. For me, it would be an easy two-hour commute (to Portland). You're here in no time."

Felix was one of a handful of U.S. athletes who met with IAAF officials to discuss arrangements for the World Indoor Championships.

"It was informative," she says. "It's great they were bringing athletes in to hear our opinions on how things are going. That's something that doesn't always happen.

"It seems like things are right on track. They're very focused on the athlete and us having all of our needs met. They have things in order -- the transportation, the housing and so on."

Outdoor track and field, thanks to the University of Oregon's influence, is big in the state. The indoor version of the sport, not so much.

"It's really different," Felix says. "There's not much of it that goes on in this part of the country. It's a more intimate crowd with different distances, but it's always fun to get inside and run. It will be a great opportunity for people here to get familiar with indoor track."

Felix is on a six-week hiatus after competing through the 2015 outdoor season.

"I'm enjoying the break," she says. "For me, it's a great time of year to be refreshed and give my body some rest."

Felix has always been a 200 specialist. But she stepped up to the 400 in the World Championships at Beijing in August, coming away with the gold medal in a personal-record 49.26 seconds.

"I'll always consider myself a 200 runner, but I'm so much more open than I have been in the past to exploring the 400," she says. "Running at Worlds gave me more confidence and encouragement to continue to not put limits on myself and see what the potential is there."

Felix is one of the most accomplished female sprinters in history, with 13 major-meet gold medals -- four in the Olympics, nine in the World Championships, including relays -- and 19 total medals on track and field's two biggest stages. She is a four-time recipient of the Jesse Owens Award as the USATF's female athlete of the year and was the 2012 IAAF female athlete of the year.

It has been nearly a dozen years since, at age 18, Felix burst onto the scene by earning silver in the 200 at the 2004 Olympic Games while setting a World Junior record.

"Time has flown by," says Felix, who turns 30 in Nov. 18. "It's weird to go on a (U.S. national) team now. I'm the oldest person, and there are all these kids are coming out of high school. The tables have turned.

"But it's a great experience. A lot of the things I wanted as an 18-year-old, I'm able to give back and be that person that I wished had come alongside me. It was neat to be able to answer questions and give insight about professional track. I enjoyed that."

Felix continues to build on a legacy to rival that of greats such as Florence Griffith Joyner and Marion Jones.

"It's something I've never focused on," Felix says. "Through the years, I've been able to accomplish some really cool things, but now I realize there are still things left there for me to do. I'm at the point where your eyes are open to it."

Felix intends to compete through the 2017 World Championships.

"Then I'll re-evaluate and see where I am," she says. "As long as I'm enjoying it and able to compete at a high level, I'll continue. But you never know what will happen."

After high school, Felix signed a pro contract with Adidas, which paid for her education at Southern Cal. She graduated with a degree in elementary education.

Once she retires from running, "I want to work with kids in some capacity," she says. "It's always been a passion of mine. I would love to still be involved in the sport. I don't know exactly what that would look like.

"Right now, I don't have the coaching bug, but I never say never.”

She says her future might be in the classroom.

“I don't know if it would be full-time or some type of administration,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to teach fourth or fifth grade. That (desire) hasn't left me."

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