LONDON — Allyson Felix's running style is so elegant, it's easy for her to lapse into floating like a butterfly when she should be stinging like a bee. "It's nice, but sometimes you have to get into an aggressive mode," she said.
It took until her third Olympics to get that edge, an odyssey that included silver medals in the 200 meters in 2004 and 2008, and a fifth-place finish in the 100 meters last week. It all clicked in her mind Wednesday in the 200.
Aggressive from the first step, Felix won her first individual gold in 21.88 seconds, lunging across the finish line ahead of two-time 100-meter champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica (22.09) and London 100-meter silver medalist Carmelita Jeter (22.14).
On the day U.S. track and field athletes won three of four events and seven of 12 possible medals — their best one-day haul since nine in six events on Aug. 6, 1992 — Felix's triumph was the longest in coming and perhaps the hardest won. "I think the moments that motivated me most was losing on the biggest stage," she said.
American Sanya Richards-Ross, who won gold in the 400, was fifth. Jeter became the first U.S. woman to medal in the 100 and 200 in the same Games since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988.
Aries Merritt won the 110 hurdles in 12.92 seconds, the second-fastest time ever in the Olympics, beating American Jason Richardson (13.04). Defending champion Dayron Robles of Cuba clutched his right hamstring halfway through and failed to finish.
Long jumper Brittney Reese became the second U.S. woman to win the event at the Olympics, leaping 23 feet, 4½ inches. Janay DeLoach got the bronze. The other American to win was Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988.
The only event not won by an American was the 400 hurdles, in which Russia's Natalya Antyukh nipped American Lashinda Demus.
The United States will have only one representative in the men's 200 final today against Usain Bolt, Wallace Spearmon. Florida State's Maurice Mitchell didn't make it out of his semi. In the men's 5,000, the Americans will have 10,000 silver medalist Galen Rupp, Bernard Lagat and Lopez Lomong, the first time since 1932 the United States has three finalists in that event.
Two medals in the decathlon are possible. World record-holder Ashton Eaton was the leader halfway through with 4,661 points. Trey Hardee was second.