Richards-Ross and Felix to meet in 400 at worlds

By CHRIS LEHOURITES | August 25, 2011 | 3:55 AM EDT

FILE - This June 25, 2011, file photo shows Allyson Felix before the start of the 400 meter race at the U.S. track and field championships, in Eugene, Ore. The world championships are supposed to offer a peek of what's in store for the 2012 London Olympics. Yet some of the biggest names in U.S. track have been reduced to spectators. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — Sanya Richards-Ross is going to have some tough competition when she steps onto the track to defend her world 400-meter title, and it's going to come from American teammate Allyson Felix.

Richards-Ross, who missed most of the 2010 season because of injury, has had a bit of an up-and-down year on the track. She finished fourth at a meet last month in Birmingham, England, but then rebounded by winning the 400 in London three weeks ago.

"Coach Hart just kept saying I'm a ticking time bomb and he didn't know when I was going to go off, but he knew we were going to go off sometime," Richards-Ross said Thursday of her coach, Clyde Hart. "I just kept believing that."

Felix has won three straight world titles in the 200, and she'll be going for a fourth next week in Daegu. But she's also aiming to add an individual title in the 400 to go along with the two 4x400 relay golds she already has.

"Everyone wants to win. That is what the championships are about," said Felix, who is also planning to run in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. "Everyone is just anxiously waiting to get out there and to lay it all down."

Heats in the 400 start Saturday, the first day of competition at the world championships. The semifinals are scheduled for Sunday and the final is set for Monday.

"Just like other athletes and myself, her goal is to win the gold medal, but so is mine," Richards-Ross said of Felix and the rest of the competition. "It's going to be a very interesting matchup."

Richards-Ross said she and Hart, the former coach of American running great Michael Johnson, tweaked a few things in training after the Birmingham race in order to get ready for the worlds.

That little difference is what helped Richards-Ross win in London.

"A part of my race that wasn't going so well was my third hundred, and so coach and I just really worked on me remembering how to make that move there in the curve and really trusting my training," Richards-Ross said. "And so I did it a few times in practice and when I got to London I just went out there and executed.

"And I think that was the first time I went out there and put my race together really well."

Richards-Ross wanted to run in both the 200 and 400 in Daegu, but she failed to qualify for the shorter event. Although she said she was disappointed, it may have helped her in her main quest.

"That was definitely a dream of mine to potentially come here and do the double, but once that door closed I really focused on the 400," Richards-Ross said. "It may be a blessing in disguise because I really do want to defend my world title and run really well."

Felix, however, does have a chance to do the double, but it certainly won't be easy.

After running on the opening three days of the championships — if she reaches the 400 final — Felix will have two days off before the 200 starts next Thursday. The final is the following night.

"It is an extremely difficult task. I know that," Felix said of her quest for four golds. "It is the challenge of the schedule."