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.
Arsene Wenger heaped more praise on star playmaker Mesut Ozil after the German’s glittering performance in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth.Ozil, 27, set up Gabriel Paulista for their first goal before combining well with Olivier Giroud to grab a goal himself as the Gunners went to the top of the Premier League, for 24 hours at least.Only two weeks ago Wenger described his attacker as ‘an absolutely unbelievable player’ and, in the absence of Alexis Sanchez, he has stepped up to the plate by registering 16 assists this term.When asked about Ozil, Wenger said: “My English vocabulary is not rich enough to say how good he is!“What is even better is to watch him play, he’s a pleasure to watch and look at the numbers and see assists to assists and he’s started to score goals.“I am very happy and very proud we have such a player in our squad.”Arsenal were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by Southampton on Boxing Day but they could enter 2016 as Premier League leaders, if Leicester fail to beat Man City tomorrow.But Wenger played down his side’s chances with 19 games remaining, insisting the aim is to stay with the pack and remain consistent.“At the moment, for me what is more important is to be up there and being one point in front or behind is not so important.“But what is more important is to show consistency with our results and to show we are a real team after disappointment.“Until the end of the season you go through disappointments and your success will be decided by how well you respond. And that’s what we showed today.“We had a hesitant start after the hiding we got on Saturday, but overall we got slowly into the game and after that we dominated the game, we played with pace high up and gave Bournemouth problems.“It was a very strong response in a very convincing way to get us three very important points.”The clean sheet means Petr Cech set a new Premier League record, weeks after equalling David James’ tally, and the French manager was delighted for his summer signing from Chelsea.He now has 170 clean sheets and Wenger said: “Records are never a coincidence and we just witnessed the exceptional quality of the player because there are so many goalkeepers in the world who play so many games.“We know how exceptional he is but had he not beaten the record he would have stayed an exceptional goalkeeper. I hope it gives him hunger to do much more.”Meanwhile defender Gabriel scored his first Arsenal goal and his boss believes he has all the qualities to be a ‘great defender’.He added: “I brought him in last Christmas and I think what he has shown tonight is that he’ll be a great defender for Arsenal Football Club.“Not only because he scored the goal but because of his concentration, quality of physical ability, his agility, his mental strength, makes him a very promising centre back.”