USC naming track and field facility after Allyson Felix
LOS ANGELES - Allyson Felix, the most decorated American track athlete in Olympic history, added another honor to her resume Wednesday when USC, her alma mater, announced it will be naming the Trojans' track and field home Allyson Felix Field.
"For me to be born and raised in Los Angeles and have such a history at USC, I am just completely humbled," the 11-time Olympic medalist said in a statement released by the university.
"It's such a huge honor to be a part of history in the campus, and it's such a special place for me."
The field, which sits at the center of Katherine B. Loker Track Stadium, will be formally dedicated this spring, USC said. Campus officials said the field serves as a hub for the men's and women's track teams and also groups such as the ROTC, the Trojan Marching Band and other recreational sports.
"When Allyson and I spoke about naming the field after her, she responded with the grace and humility she has shown throughout her life," USC President Carol Folt said in a statement. "The Allyson Felix Field will recognize her immense achievements as a sports legend and Trojan — while also showing our admiration for her role as an entrepreneur, advocate and champion for women."
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Felix, who competed in 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter races in five Olympics between 2004 and 2020, won seven gold medals, three silvers and a bronze — winning at least one medal in each of the five Olympiads.
She capped her Olympic career at the 2020 Tokyo games — held in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic — at age 34 by winning a bronze medal in the 400 meters and a gold in the 4 x 400 meter team competition.
Her 11th and final Olympic medal, in the 4 x 400, broke her tie with Carl Lewis and made her the most decorated American track and field athlete.
Felix is also the most decorated athlete in the World Championships, with 20 medals between 2005 and 2022, including 14 golds, three silvers and three bronzes. The medals include seven from individual events and 13 from team relays.
"We're incredibly honored and excited to recognize one of our greatest ambassadors and the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete of all time," USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said.
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Felix has also been a prominent advocate for women and athletes of color — prominently in regard to contract negotiations. She broke with her onetime sponsor, Nike, after she said the company declined to provide adequate maternity benefits and salary guarantees as Felix looked to start a family in 2018.
Paula Cannon, an associate professor of microbiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC who led the naming committee for the university, called Felix "the ultimate Trojan."
"She graduated with a degree from Rossier, crushed it at multiple Olympics and international competitions, and bravely stood up for what she knew was right when her employer did not," Cannon said.
"It will be so wonderful that the field she walked around as a little girl from the neighborhood will be named in her honor."
Felix continues to encourage fellow Trojans to speak up on issues they believe in.
"I'm by nature a more reserved, shy person," she said. "I don't usually want to rock the boat. But it was my brother who said, `You know you can use your voice, even if it shakes,' and that really resonated with me."
Felix also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from USC last year, when she delivered the commencement speech.
Felix, now retired from track and field, said naming the field after her is particularly special because such honors are usually reserved for major financial donors.
"To have discussions about the renaming [of the track] because of my character, my integrity, and for fighting for women is something that doesn't happen," she said. "It just really shows what USC values. I feel proud of the things that I've stood for, and it makes me proud to be an alumna because of the direction that the school is going."