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the exceptional itinerary of Devon Allen, between American football and 100 meters hurdles

Touchdowns or starting blocks? Devon Allen did not decide. With 1.83 m under the fathom for 90 kg, 10″12 at 100 m and 88 cm of vertical relaxation, the prodigy attracts attention, starting with those of the National American Football League (NFL) and the American Federation of athletics (USATF). This season, the hurdler has become the third fastest man of all time over 110m hurdles (12 “84). From then on, he was announced as one of the favorites for the Eugene Worlds on July 17, 2022. At the same time, the American was recruited by the Philadelphia Eagles to play in the prestigious NFL.

Turquoise blue eyes, athletic profile, muscular stride, Devon Allen does not go unnoticed in Eugene. The United States 110m hurdles champion plays at home: in 27 years of existence, sive has irretrievably revolved around this small town (barely 200,000 souls), nestled between the Pacific and the mountains of Oregon.

Dince Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman founded Nike here in the 1950s, Eugene has established itself as the mecca of American athletics. A place that has become essential in the itinerary of champions, both at federal and university level (NCAA). Originally from Phoenix (Arizona), the hurdler joined the University of Oregon to develop his extraordinary abilities.

It’s also in Eugene that Devon Allen built one of his greatest rivalries, in the federal championship, with Grant Holloway, Olympic vice-champion in Tokyo. For a year, thehe two Americans are eengaged in a breathless showdown. They have in turn shakes Aries Merritt’s world record (12″80 in 2012). In June 2021, during the formidable American “trials” qualifying for the Games, Grant Holloway got the better of Devon Allen by setting a time 12″81 gun (2nd stopwatch in history). The latter then retorted this season by attributing in Eugene the national title, barely two weeks after running the 110m hurdles in New York in 12.84 (the third time in history).

Despite his amazing lap times, Devon Allen is still chasing after a first individual world charm. Returning empty-handed from his Olympic finals in Rio in 2016 (5th) and Tokyo in 2021 (4th), he only hung on 7th place at the Doha Worlds in 2019. Currently 2nd in the World Athletics world ranking, behind the champion Jamaican Olympian Hansle Parchment, the hurdler eyeing a first world crown. Chance of the attribution of the Worlds, it is therefore in Eugene that Devon Allen could conquer his first major title.

But Devon Allen’s life isn’t all about tartan. Receiver for the Oregon university team between 2013 and 2016, the young man achieves remarkable performances. But his career was hampered by a series of injuries. En 2015, in the semi-finals of the university playoffs, Devon Allen tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and had to undergo surgery which marked the end of his season.

Returning to the highest level a year later, the athlete again attempted an incursion into the green square, after the Rio Games. But in his fourth game, this time it was the right knee ligament that betrayed him. The champion hangs up, leaves Oregon and takes his bag of spikes with him to focus on hurdles, signing a professional athlete contract with Nike in 2016.

Devon Allen with the Oregon Ducks against the Michigan Spartans, September 6, 2014, in Eugene (USA).  (JOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)

“If I hadn’t had a knee injury in college, I’d probably be playing in the NFL for 5 years. I probably would have followed the path set by the draft and kept the track for the offseason.”assured the American, in January, in an interview with New York Times (article in English and for subscribers).

But the athlete persevered. Reconnecting with his first love, he showed up in 2022 at an NFL recruiting day. The highlight of his performance? A 40-yard (36.5m) sprint, completed in the unofficial time of 4.35, during Oregon’s Pro Day.”I don’t want to wait until I’m 30 or 31 to try to integrate the NFL. I know that there is a significant skills gap between the university level and the NFL, but consider me talented enough to play there”, advanced the howler at a press conference during this event quoted by World Athletics (content in English).

Something to catch the eye of the Philadelphia Eagles recruiters who hired him in April to three years as receiver. One question remains, however: why would Devon Allen jeopardize a global career on the track for a sport that has so often left him on the sidelines?Because I love football”, confess frankly the person concerned New York Times.

Before him, other athletes had embraced a dual career, like Renaldo Nehemiah, the first athlete under 13 seconds in the 110m hurdles (1981) who had also played for the San Francisco 49ers for three seasons. To pursue his two careers, Devon Allen says he adheres to a drastic lifestyle. From recovery to sleep, through dietetics, everything is millimetered to be able to chain.

Before flying 2,945 miles from Eugene for his new challenge, Devon Allen is expected Sunday on the Hayward Field straight. After being formed, drafted, selected and even baptized at Eugene, two days before winning his ticket for the Rio Games, Devon Allen wants to triumph there. The planets seem aligned for the American rocket.

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