The mission Allyson Felix has chosen to accept is still difficult. When the superb American ran the 200-400m double at the 2011 World Championships, the schedule was perfect.Now, even though the overlap between the 200m and 400m has been eased for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Felix still has a tough road to travel.In 2011, in Daegu, South Korea, the 400 metres and the 200m were separated by a day of rest. At the 2012 Olympics, the 200m started the day after the 400 metres ended but with the 200m heats and semis on the same day.Overlap between the two sprints appeared at the 2013 World Championships, and even though the gap between the 200m heats and the 400m final has been extended from 75 minutes to 13 hours at this year’s Olympic Games, they are still on the same day.WAY TO GOLDIt would be far better for the 30-year-old American if the Daegu schedule was reintroduced. In fact, when US superstar Michael Johnson fought to do the same double in the 1996Olympics, he insisted on a day to rest in between the 400m and the 200m. Not only is that rest day absent for Felix, but the elegant American still has to run a 200m and a 400m on the same day.In other words, if she does qualify for both events at the US Olympic Trials, she will have to run once on day two and three; twice on day four at 9.30 a.m. local time in her 200m heat and in the 400m final at 10.45 p.m. local time; and then once on both days five and six.As good as the four-time individual World Champion is, she obviously doesn’t have the clout Johnson had in 1996 when he was the undisputed king of athletics. If she got her way, it would be a good guess that others might try the double.Bahamian Shaunae Miller, second to Felix in the 400m last year at the Worlds, is nippy over 200 metres. If the overlap remains, Miller might be best advised to skip it to save all her energy for the 400 metres.That event could have the last two Olympic winners, American Sanya Richards-Ross and Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain and a likely Jamaican trio from the quartet of World bronze medallist Shericka Jackson, Christine Day, Stephenie McPherson, and Novlene Williams-Mills in Felix’s way to gold.In the meantime, Daphne Schippers of Holland and the Jamaican pair of Elaine Thompson and Veronica Campbell-Brown, who went 1-2-3 at last year’s World Championships, and the rest of the world’s best 200-metre runners, are probably breathing a sigh of relief. Instead of facing the reigning Olympic 200m champion when she is relatively fresh, they will face Felix in the final of the curved sprint on her sixth consecutive day of action.Add 2012 Olympic runner-up Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and young British star Dina Asher-Smith to the mix and the task for Felix gets tougher.Given that they will all have rested after the 100m ends on day two of the Olympics athletics programme and before the 200m starts on day four, they still hold the advantage.n Hubert Lawrence has made notes at track side since 1980.
R Ashwin’s class was never beyond doubt. He looked little undercooked in Rajkot and on a surface that had little to no help for spinners, India’s strike bowler struggled to get going. (Match Scorecard | Key Highlights)Ashwin had been out of action for nearly a month before India’s five-match Test series against England got underway from November 9. The star off-spinner was rested for the ODI series against New Zealand and understandably, he was rusty.In the first Test as England staged a strong fight, Ashwin finished with 3/230. His other spin partners, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra failed to find any kind of momentum either and India’s attack looked listless for the first time in four years. (Ashwin, Jayant script India’s memorable win)However, the equations changed in Vizag. The pitch for the second Test was executed to turn square (it was the same venue where Mishra’s five-for had spelt doom for the Black Caps). But that was from the case. India made the most of good batting conditions after winning the toss and posted 455. England, led ably by Joe Root and aided by a stubborn partnership between Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, were on the cusp of another great fightback, before Ashwin, who finally found his rhythm, tore through the lower-order to snare another five-wicket haul.In Vizag, Ashwin could also count on an old friend and a debutant – Jayant Yadav. After Mishra’s ordinary outing in Rajkot, India decided to blood Jayant, an off-spinner, against an English side that had in its ranks seven left-handed batsmen.advertisementThe two off-spinners, in tandem with Jadeja, accounted for 14 of the 20 English wickets in Vizag as India wrapped up a massive 246-run win.Besides, Ashwin and Jayant were involved in a 64-run stand in the first innings after a bit of a middle-order wobble.Ashwin, who now has 231 wickets from 41 Tests, was in awe of Jayant, who he goes back a long way with.”Jayant is a great kid. His work ethics are great. He has a very strong temperament. There’s nothing hurried about his action,” said Ashwin.Jayant was in Chennai four years ago and it was Ashwin who had taken care of his lodgings and made sure that the youngster was comfortable in his hometown.Perhaps that close bond also allowed the two to bat out of their skins against a disciplined bunch of England bowlers after they had struck enough blows on a vaunted middle-order.”I had to tighten my batting. I have done the hard yards. It was also a beautiful partnership with Jayant. Communication is something that gets me going and he is someone who absorbs communication very well,” Ashwin said.Jayant, who had a memorable debut, and finished with figures of 1/38 and 3/30 with the ball and scores of 35 and 27 not out, said it took a lot of pressure off him, bowling in tandem with Ashwin.”Bowling in tandem with Ash is great. It takes the pressure off you. He always gives meaningful inputs and he never questions what you are doing,” he said after admitting that there were some nerves on the first day.