Aside from being great musicians, what do Sade and Jay-Z have in common?
They both set the tone for Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix.
Just named USOC SportsWoman of the Year, Felix is at the top of her game. At this point in time, it’s no one else’s game but hers. Sure, she might have run a perfect 200 in London and be the beautiful face behind Nike’s motivational running campaign, but that doesn’t mean the track and field athlete doesn’t get star struck from time to time. Especially in front of Jay-Z, where she admits she gets tongue-tied. “I’ve been a fan for a long time. I passed him on the red carpet once, but that was it. I was way too shy to go up to him,” laughs Felix.
It took Felix three Olympiads and more than eight years of competition to reach the pinnacle of individual gold in London where she made history. Her third Olympic certainly appearance proved to be her most successful, snagging three gold medals and becoming the first woman to accomplish such a feat since 1988 when Track and Field icon Florence Griffith-Joyner did it.
Felix admits that music plays a large role not only in her training, but in her personal life as well. On the track, it impacts her mostly during training and warm ups. “It sets the tone and gets me in the right mood to be ready to tackle a tough workout and pumped up to perform, and in a longer run it helps me to get through it,” Felix says.
As for the “in” music currently buzzing on radio frequencies everywhere, Felix laughs at the mention of Carly Rae’s Call Me Maybe. “It’s very catchy and was probably the song of the summer. I didn’t really listen to it but I saw the swimmers did a really cool music video and whenever I turned on the radio I think that song was playing.” Equally trendy is Justin Bieber’s Boyfriend, which Felix admits is probably her guiltiest pleasure on her iPod right now. “It’s hard to admit it, but it’s on there,” she laughs.
For sprinting, she admits the beats change dramatically because it has to in order to match her pace. “It’s completely different when I’m sprinting – it’s more about getting pumped up and aggressive. I like to listen to Jay-Z and Kanye,” Felix says. “Sprinting is like my alter-ego – I’m really laid back but to get into that phase and be able to perform, that’s really what I use the music for,” she says noting that gospel also helps her perform at an elite level and gives her that “boost of encouragement.”
What is she jamming to right now? “I love R&B and soul music. And anything pop and hip-hop,” she says while noting her playlist rotates with what’s currently “in”. The Olympian gushes about her affinity for the ultra sultry Sade and her greatest hits album, The Best of Sade, especially when she has to slow down for longer runs where she takes time to enjoy the process of her sport (and confesses Adele’s swoon is another favorite).
As for the infamous power boost song that really pumps her up? “I know it sounds cheesy, but probably Eye of the Tiger, especially in the long run, which is not my thing. It comes in handy,” Felix jokes. No surprise there as Nike execs released a statement at this year’s SXSW in Austin that Eye of the Tiger was the #1 power boost song for their popular Nike+ running app.
Felix loves enjoying the music that inspires her on the track, off of it as well. “Recently my favorite concert was Watch the Throne,” she admits. The tour was co-headlined by none other than Jay-Z and Kanye West and grossed over $40million. The Olympian also gushes about a live performance where she caught a performance by India Arie. “It was amazing,” says Felix.
Even with the gold around her neck, Felix admits the chances of getting tongue-tied again during her next Jay-Z encounter are pretty likely. And so are the Rio Games where she thinks athletically she can run even faster.