The World’s Fastest Teenager

A Tony Duffy Sports Pictorial of America’s youngest sprinting sensation, Allyson Felix

By Kim Goss
Published: Fall 2003
If you’re a young sprinter, patience is not only a virtue, it’s essential. Even the best teenage athletes in the country may have to wait until they’re almost 30 before they have a chance at world-class status. During these years they must spend countless hours not just on the track but also in the weight room to develop the physical qualities necessary to beat the best. This is the customary route to success for most athletes, and such is the nature of sport that there are few exceptions. One such exception is 17-year-old Allyson Felix of Los Angeles.
One of Felix’s role models is Olympic champion Marion Jones, who won Felix’s admiration not just for her athletic accomplishments but also for her character. Just last year Felix joined a group of fans at the Mount SAC Relays in Walnut, California, to get Jones’s autograph. Now Felix, who just graduated from Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills, is poised to exceed the accomplishments of her American idol. Felix could well become the fastest sprinter yet.
Although Felix didn’t take up track until the ninth grade, just three years later she amazed the track community by coming back to the Mount SAC Relays in April 2003 with a time of 22.51 in the 200 meters, beating the 11-year-old high school record by .07 seconds held by Marion Jones. In May Felix ran a wind-aided 11.12 in the 100 meters at the California Masters meet in Cerritos, California. Then came June.
At the mid-point of the year Felix displayed Olympic potential at a meet in Mexico City, winning with 22.11, breaking the junior world record and defeating such veteran talents as LaTasha Jenkins, Keli White and 1999 World Champion Inger Miller. That time, incidentally, equaled the best time Jones recorded last year.
Felix is considering attending the University of Southern California to major in education and follow in her mother’s Marlean’s footsteps to eventually become an elementary school teacher. Felix’s father, Paul, is an ordained minister who teaches New Testament Greek at the Master’s Seminary in Sun Valley, California. Her brother, Wes, a sophomore at USC, recently won the 200 meters at the Pac-10 championships.
Although nicknamed “Chicken Legs” by her high school teammates, the 5-foot-6, 125-pound Felix is superbly strong. She has reportedly power cleaned 170, deadlifted 270 and leg pressed 700 pounds. Her accomplishments are testament to her work ethic—her coach Jonathan Patton says Felix hasn’t missed a practice in four years!
To do justice to this amazing talent, BFS enlisted the lens of one of the world’s most celebrated sports photographers, Tony Duffy. Duffy’s stunning photos are an exclusive, firsthand look at tomorrow’s track-and-field superstar: Allyson Felix.