U.S. track and field sprinter Allyson Felix is on a quest for her fifth gold medal as she competes in the 400-meter on Monday night. Felix, who is the 2015 400-meter world champion, is running the individual 400-meter for the first time in her Olympic career.
The four-time Olympian is one of the most accomplished sprinters in U.S. track and field history. If Felix wins, she will have more gold medals than any other woman in Olympic track and field history. In addition to her six Olympic medals, she holds 19 medals from international competition. Although she’s reached tremendous success in her career, she’s never forgotten where she came from– remaining close to her family, and faith.
Someone who has been there throughout the ups and downs of her career has been her brother, Wes.
Here’s everything you need to know about Wes, and the close relationship he shares with his sister.
1. Allyson Says He Inspired Her to Start Running
Felix attended Los Angeles Baptist High School, a private school located in North Hills. During her freshman year, Felix discovered her love for track when Wes become involved in the sport.
“We knew she was fast, but we didn’t realize how fast until she qualified for the state meet as a freshman,” her father told the Los Angeles Times.
In an article Felix wrote for The Players’ Tribune last fall, she opens up about her biggest inspiration: her older brother.
Felix revealed she was always in awe of his athletic ability, and was inspired to follow in his footsteps. Wes grew up playing basketball and running track. In 2002, he was the USA Junior Champion in the 200-meter in 2002 and the Pac 10 champion in the 200-meter in both 2003 and 2004 while running for USC.
2. He Says He’s a Faster Sprinter Than His Sister
Wes tried to set the record straight in a recent article for espnW, when he boldly claimed that he’s the faster of the two Felix siblings.
“They’re like: Because she’s an Olympic champion and I never made it to the Olympics, then she’s obviously better than I ever was,” he said. “But she wasn’t actually faster. In 200, my PR is 20.43; hers is 21.69. In 100, mine’s 10.23 (I think); hers is 10.89.
“I wouldn’t test it, but there’s still a part of me that believes maybe I could beat her at 100 meters.”
He also revealed some interesting family stories, including that no one in their family calls Allyson by name.
He told espnW:
Everyone close to her calls her ‘Shug,’ like sugar without the ‘ur.’ After she was born, my dad felt we looked exactly the same, so he called her ‘Wes in a Dress’ for a while. Then my uncle was saying, ‘She’s sweet as sugar. We need to call her ‘Shuggah Puggah.’ My dad was like: That’s never gonna fly. Then it gets shortened, between my mom and dad, landing on ‘Shug.’ Today, she’s still ‘Shug,’ and my parents don’t care if they’re sitting on the couch talking to NBC, that’s what they call her. Even in the stands at the Olympics and world championships, that’s what they’re screaming out.
3. He Is Allyson’s Agent
Felix has said in various interviews that her brother has offered unwavering support throughout her career. After Felix’s crushing second-place finishes at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, Wes was there to encourage her.
Not long after the Beijing Games, however, he was often extremely exhausted. After months of testing, he was diagnosed with a liver virus which immediately ended his own athletic career. Wes then turned his attention to another aspect of the sport: serving as his sister’s full-time agent. Since then, he’s helped her gain several new sponsorship deals, and has been her mentor.
“I had Wes become my agent, not just because he’s my brother, but because I trust him and have the utmost faith in his abilities,” Felix wrote in the Players’ Tribune.
“This move ended up being one of the best decisions of my career, helping me excel to new heights in terms of both branding and my performance on the track.”
One of the biggest changes since Wes became her agent was switching sponsors from Adidas to Nike.
“Joining Nike was a huge step forward in becoming a household name,” she wrote. “Once we became a part of Team Nike, it became easier to get other companies on board and gain recognition heading into the 2012 Olympics.”
Wes also represents Kori Carter, according to his profile on USA Track & Field. Although Carter missed the cut for the Rio Olympics, she was a nine-time All-American at Stanford University.
4. He Carried Her Off the Track at the 2013 World Championships
When Felix was injured in the women’s 200-meter final at the 2013 worlds, it was her brother who carried her off the track.
She wrote in the Players’ Tribune that Wes helped her to put everything in perspective during one of her most difficult times.
He found a way to console me during the toughest time in my career. I was angry, wondering why this injury had to happen now. In his true fashion, he put everything in perspective: “How long have you been running? How many injuries have you had and come back from? This is just something that is going to be a part of your journey.”
She said she’s always looked up to her big brother, and still does.
“My recovery from the injury in 2013 and redemption at the 2015 World Championships would not be possible without the encouragement and advice he’s provided over the years,” Felix wrote.
“As I build on this success, I do it with the utmost confidence that one of the essential constants in my life -my brother — is here to help me along the way. Thank you, Wes.”
5. Allyson Calls Him Her ‘Best Friend’
The feeling is mutual. Wes has said he highly values their relationship, and remains his sister’s biggest fan. He told espnW the most challenging aspect of being her agent is seeing how tough she is on herself.
“I would say maybe five times, she’s actually been happy after a race. That’s the toughest part of being her agent: seeing her sad,” he said. “After every race, it’s kind of torture because I know most likely she’s going to be not too happy about something. Not in a really, really bad mood, but really tough on herself. She always sees room for improvement.
“I have learned: Give her a few hours, let her be. Then I can start trying to put things in perspective.”
Which is something that Allyson says her brother always manages to do.