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Felix setting the stage for 200-400 meters Olympic bid

(Reuters) - Top American sprinter Allyson Felix will double up at July’s U.S. trials in hopes of competing in both the 200 and 400 meters at the Rio Olympics, her coach told Reuters.

Allyson Felix (USA) celebrates after winning the womens 400m in 49.26 during the IAAF World Championships in Athletics at National Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Olympic 200m gold medalist and world 400m champion has long wanted to challenge the rare Olympic double but will need a schedule change to make it possible in 2016.

“The Olympic Trials schedule is fine and I am working with USA Track & Field on the Olympic schedule,” her coach, Bob Kersee, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The current Rio schedule would make the double a daunting challenge. Felix would need to compete in the first round of the 200m 75 minutes before the 400m final.

“That’s unfair,” Kersee said. “Hopefully they will look at that.”

Only twice has a female athlete won both the 200m and 400m at the Olympics. Kersee-coached Valerie Brisco-Hooks claimed the double at the 1984 Games and France’s Marie-Jose Perec won both at the 1996 Olympics.

“Adjusting the schedule in my opinion does not hurt anybody,” said Kersee, who has frequently proposed 200-400 meters runners be given the same chance that 100-200m sprinters have in the Olympics.

USA Track & Field has been in discussions with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) concerning a change and will be filing a formal request, a spokeswoman said.

The IAAF did not respond to a query and Kersee said he had not talked with the governing body.

“All our training is toward her doing both,” he said. “We are going to double at our Olympic trials and try and make the team in the 4 and the 2.”

If a schedule change does not come through, he and Felix will decide after the July trials what to do, Kersee said.

Regardless, Felix, who has won 20 Olympic and world championship medals, would like to compete in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays in Rio, as she did at the 2012 Olympics and 2015 worlds.

She has tried the 200-400m double once on the global scene, finishing second in the 400m and third in the 200m at the 2011 world championships.

Felix, 30, wanted to attempt the double at the 2015 Beijing worlds, but she and Kersee decided the schedule would be too difficult.

She instead blazed to victory in the 400m with Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers claiming the 200m.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine