U.S. Olympic Sprinter Allyson Felix, 26, left London with three gold medals and a bright, big smile. Felix captured gold in the 200-meter, the 4×400-meter relay, and the world-record 4×100-meter relay. Competing in her third Olympics, Felix finally won the gold in the 200-meter, an event in which she brought home silver in both 2004 and 2008.

Felix, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., took up track and field as a freshman in high school, rather late for an Olympian. However, she soon demonstrated that she belonged with the most experienced runners. Upon graduating high school, Felix elected to turn professional immediately and forgo her college eligibility, signing a contract with Adidas. Meanwhile, she still attended the University of Southern California and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education in 2008.

Felix took the Olympic field by storm at the 2004 Games in Athens, winning silver in the 200-meter when she was only 18. However, Felix’s failure to capture gold in the 200-meter, her signature event, in 2008 is well-chronicled and had been a major obstacle for the track star.

Felix entered this year’s Games with her past struggles in mind. “I think my experiences before with the Olympic Games are just huge,” Felix told Uinterview exclusively. “Each time was a little different and I feel like I took away some different stuff and now I’m finally at a place where I can use it. And just everything, you know, competing away from home, the whole Olympic deal, it’s a lot of pressure and [I learned] how to handle all that stuff.”

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Q: Were there any sprinters who inspired you while growing up? - Uinterview User

Well, I got into track and field kind of late, so I kind of had to backtrack and do my research, and Evelyn Ashford is someone who continues to inspire me. I think she’s amazing. She competed in a time where there was enormous amounts of doping going on and she was just really true and genuine and a true sprinter in my mind.

Q: What’s your workout regimen in preparation for the Olympics? - Uinterview User

In preparation for the Games, I’m training right around six days a week, five hours a day, and that’s time spent on the track doing speed workouts, endurance stuff, and I spend three hours there and two hours in the gym doing plyometrics, free weights, Olympic lifts and all that good stuff.

Q: How do you prepare yourself mentally for competition? - Uinterview User

Mentally, I try to stay to myself. I need to zone out and I just try to get in tune with what I’m about to do, think about the technical aspects of things, and just really block out every possible distraction.

Q: What was your experience competing in past Olympic Games? - Uinterview User

I think my experiences before with the Olympic Games are just huge. Each time was a little different and I feel like I took away some different stuff, and now I’m finally at a place where I can use it. And just everything, you know, competing away from home, the whole Olympic deal, it’s a lot of pressure, and [I learned] how to handle all that stuff.

Q: Did your success in 2008 raise the bar for the 2012 Olympics? - Uinterview User

It definitely does — 2008 was great. I had success with the relay, but not as much success as I would have liked to have individually, so it’s been driving me the last four years, and even longer than that. It’s super motivating, and I just can’t wait to have another opportunity.

Q: What’s your diet regimen in preparation for the Games? - Uinterview User

I try to keep my diet pretty balanced with the way that I normally eat. So, nothing specific, but for me it’s just a high-protein diet — it’s always worked best for me. And what I’m going to splurge on is Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk ice cream. I cannot wait.