She turned pro as a teenager, has a serious sweet tooth and a funny childhood nickname. Allyson Felix is also a fierce competitor chasing her first individual Olympic gold medal in the 200 meters this year. Here are five things you should know about the 27-year-old sprinter.
1. She turned pro out of high school
Felix enrolled at USC in 2003 but signed a pro contract with Adidas, so she wasn't allowed to run on the Trojans' track team. Adidas paid her college tuition and she graduated with a degree in elementary education in 2008.
2. Her nickname growing up was Chicken Legs
Felix's high school teammates gave her the name because of her long, skinny legs. But don't be fooled. Felix packs a lot of power in her 125-pound frame. She can leg-press 700 pounds and dead-lift 245 pounds.
3. She's a top chef
Felix loves to bake. Her specialties are making German chocolate cakes, cookies, and cinnamon rolls. "My training partners must think I'm out to get them because I'm always bringing them [fattening] treats," she says with a laugh.
4. She has a tough coach
Since 2005, Felix has been training with Bob Kersee, who coached his wife, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, to two Olympic gold medals in the heptathlon. Felix is seeing positive results, winning three 200-meter world titles since '05 and running a personal best of 49.59 seconds in the 400-meters at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships. "He told me each year was going to be a little more intense. I'm definitely seeing that," says Felix, who trains four to five hours a day, five days a week. "I feel like I'm the strongest I've ever been."
5. Failure motivates her
Felix uses her second-place finishes in the 200-meter races at the 2004 and '08 Olympics to fuel her workouts. "I never got over [that]. I don't think I ever will," says Felix, who did win a gold medal with the U.S.'s 4 x 400 meter relay team in '08. "I constantly think about it when I don't feel like training. It pushes me. I never want to be in that place again."