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LONDON (Reuters) - American sprinter Allyson Felix put her long-awaited victory in the Olympic 200 meters final on Wednesday down to her earlier performance in the 100 at the London Games.
Felix found an extra burst of speed down the home straight to pull away and win the 200 in 21.88 seconds, finally laying to rest the ghosts of Athens and Beijing where she finished second to Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown.
The American has won the world title three times but always made it clear it was the Olympic crown she coveted most.
In an attempt to find something extra for London, Felix had dropped back to the 100 this season after doubling up in the 200 and 400 for last year's world championships and winning neither.
"I think it was huge for me," the 26-year-old said of running the shorter sprint where she finished fifth in the final in a personal best of 10.89.
"I learned a lot from last year... and I felt that going back to the 100 made me aggressive, of course there's work to do there but having a PR (personal record) encouraged me and I just knew that that speed would help in the 200 and it definitely did," Felix told a news conference.
It was a first women's 200 Olympic gold for the United States since Gwen Torrence in 1992 and Felix won it against a top-class field including 100 meters champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and silver medalist Carmelita Jeter, 400 winner Sanya Richards-Ross and, of course, Campbell-Brown.
"To lose to her twice in Olympics Games has been tough but she's not like a horrible person so it's hard to hate her or anything like that," Felix said of her arch-rival.
"It's just that when we get in the races together we push each other."
Between them, the pair have won every world outdoor and Olympic title since 2004.
This time, however, Campbell-Brown faded in the home straight to finish fourth as the elegant Felix floated down the track to enjoy her golden moment.
Fraser-Pryce took the silver and American Jeter the bronze
"I just think it hasn't completely sunk in yet," said a beaming Felix.
"It's been a long time coming and before the race I just reflected on the journey and I thought about Beijing and crossing the line, seeing my family and breaking down there. Tonight I saw them and it was just complete happiness."
Editing by Ed Osmond