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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  October 26, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with allyson felix. she electrified the track world this summer with her performance at the 200 meters, capturing gold in the event following a disappointing second place finish in beijing. the continued problem of doping and the landmark decision that level the playing field. we are glad you could join us for conversation with olympic star allyson felix, coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: allyson felix is one of the most decorated female track stars in recent history. she had a standout performance at the london games. she set the world record on one of the marquee olympic events and is also an advocate on a number of important issues including childhood obesity. good to have you on this program.
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are you doing all right? >> i am good. tavis: let's do this right quick, bam. these things are heavy. i love this. these are very, very heavy. >> they are heavier than you would expect. tavis: i would be like this. [laughter] tavis: how did it feel to finally get that monkey off your back? >> it was amazing. i felt a mixture of joy and relief at the same time. finally i can say i have done it. tavis: a lot of folks, not necessarily in competition, but in life, when you find yourself in a rut or in a situation where
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you cannot seem to push beyond it. in your case, losing to the same person, two olympics in a row. tell me about the mental process you had to go through of getting beyond losing to the same person in two consecutive olympic games. >> it is biblical. i don't think i ever really got over it. that is what made me work so hard over the last four years. you feel like you have made some progress, and then you do run faster, but the new are against that person again. it is difficult to pick up and decide to keep going on, and you see progress being made. tavis: how did your training regimen change? it was clear to us your focusing more this time. >> definitely. through the last four years, i
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explore other options. i tried out the four hundred and learned that i needed to run the 100 to do well in the 200. i got in the weight room and just did everything i could to make sure i would be in the best position to run the four hundred. tavis: i know the joke about chicken legs. they used to call you chicken legs. >> they still do. it will not go away. i finally got it, and the announcer said, chicken legs got it. tavis: how much can you lead press now? >> i used to be able to lead press 700 pounds. it was tough, but i am competitive. tavis: i thought my leg press was a decent, but 700, that is
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pretty impressive. i was fascinated by just watching the coverage, but you come from a family where your mother and father are persons of the an abiding faith. your father gets up in front of the whole church and says i don't care how many metals, if it is not about jesus, and all that. how has that aided and abetted your professional, your athletic life? >> is the only thing i know. i grew up in the church. i am a person of faith. i definitely feel like i have a gift to run, and my whole goal is to use it to the best of my ability. it just makes sense that i come from a family that is so involved in the church. my mom has such great faith, and
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like you said, i call her before every race and i pray. it is just peace of mind. it is great to have this race, but life is such a bigger picture than that. i want to run for eternal glory, but that is what did that is not what life is all about. tavis: i was on the track team in college. i was on the speech team and the debate team. before every tournament, my mom and i would have prayer on the phone. i always wondered if my opponent was on the phone with her mom.
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>> the prayer is not necessarily to win, but let me you -- let me be used in whatever way the lord sees fit. that is what is all about. tavis: how do you think you can best be used with all these metals and all the accolades, how can you be used, particularly in a field that has been so burned with illegal and rampant drug use now, the lance armstrong story is in the news every day. >> i try to be a positive light in that situation. i, myself, have been frustrated. it is a hard thing when you are out there working every day to know that someone else's cheating, and that may not necessarily get caught. you have to be ok with may be getting second sometime just because of the state of four sports are at. but i can be of voice and use my platform. helping young persons, is really
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important for them to understand how to do things the right way, not just in sports, but in life in general. i think you have suspicions, you don't want to ever accuse anyone, but yes. tavis: i only raise that because at one. , i remember reading the story of a particular woman who felt that lance armstrong was the devil incarnate. the things he said and did, and i don't know where the true lines are, i am just saying what i read in the paper, with regard to trying to keep secret what he and his teammates were doing. he still will not come out and knowledge that.
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i raise that go back to the comment of what it feels like to run against someone you know is cheating. the woman talked about what she endured and what lance and others put her through, and how all these years nobody believed her, and she lost her job and she was just crushed. now, years later, the truth is finally coming out, and she feels a sense of redemption, but i am sympathetic to her story, but i think about the other guys. there were some guys who were doing in clean, doing it right. they are looking at lance and others who are beating them and they cannot say nothing about it. have your survive in a sport -- you have to be ok with coming in second or third?
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>> you have to know why you are doing it. you have to not stoop to that level. you have to be ok with knowing that is going on, and is something that is so frustrating. there are a lot of cases where you can look at somebody and now you are huge. can see it with your eyes, but you are not getting caught, so it is hard. you have to go out there and work hard and say my integrity is that important to me. that is somewhere i am not going to go. >> there is always an opportunity -- dr. king used to always say the time is always ripe to do it right. i would think if ever there were some time, the time is now. i am wondering what sense do you have that people like you -- this is a new generation. you will be 30, that is old and
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track. >> it is. tavis: you will be pushing at 30 no. by the time the next olympics rolls around. you think it is possible for track stars to get change the area, to turn the story? >> i hope so. i am trying to get through to the kids of the next generation because it definitely lies in the decisions they make. i am very hopeful that in rio, maybe it will be less of a problem. tavis: you said you pray with your mother before these races and the prayer is not to win, but to do your best, whatever the outcome may be. tell me about the pressure, what brings on a steroid use and other enhancements in sports, it isn't the pressure that people feel to win by any means necessary?
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they just want to win, because the pressure is there, the sponsors are pushing, the coaches are pushing. talk about how you navigate that level of pressure. >> the pressure it is hard. the act world is only watching every four years and a lot of people feel like they have to win in that timeframe. for me, there is a lot of expectations, and you want to be able to live up to them. i just try to take it day by day. i was just more at peace this time around, whether i would win or lose, i am going to go out and giving everything i have. that is how i try to deal with expectations. tavis: there are some folks who, if they don't succeed, they don't win on the larger stage, and if they do that twice, they might not come back. what kept you coming back?
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>> i never let track define me. it is what i do and what i love, but i think i have and other things i am passion about and interested in, it helps me to come back. it helped me to have renewed love for the sport by being able to step away and then come back. having two silver medals, there is no more motivation than that. that was the driving force. i am super competitive and i just wanted another opportunity to get back out there. tavis: that as much as i love jackee, i would not want to be coached by bob kersey. mall will push you -- bob will push you. how do you navigate having a coach of his guilt? >> jackee helped me.
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she has been through worse than i have. there been. times the have had to get on the phone and call her and say what do i do? he is demanding, and he yells and screams and demands excellence of you. but that is what makes him so genius. every genius has a little bit of insanity, and he is no different. he has so much wisdom. tavis: now that you have this acclaim, we know you are passionate about children. in the long term, what do you want to do with this platform that you have? >> i also have a passion for kids that way. i have a degree in elementary education, and now what is heavy on my heart is finding -- just
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the amount of time i spend in classrooms and seeing the drastic changes from even when i was a kid, and the amount activity that is going on is something i definitely think we have to do something about, and the time is now. it is an urgent situation. tavis: what most concerns about the state of america's children today? >> the health issue. it is now normal thing that our kids are spending so much time in school where they are moving -- not moving at all. they have diseases that we see an older people, and it is just frightening. this is the first generation that will live five years less than their parents. when i hear that, it is just mind-boggling. who wants their child to have a shorter like expectancy than themselves? tavis: obviously the olympics is always about the cream of the
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crop. do you think the obesity issue that is so rampant with our kids might have some long-term effect on our national competitiveness down the road? >> i think it definitely does. of course. kids are not even exploring the option of sports anymore. they don't even know what they could do. i was not read to be an olympian. i did not start running until high school, and i just doubled up on it. if i was not active and involved in different sports and just moving around, i would not have known i had the potential to become an olympian. i know there are other stories like that out there. it is very important to be active and healthy. tavis: how did you come to running so late? >> i was playing basketball, i was in gymnastics. i am doing pretty much everything but running. i was that a new school and i went out to meet new people.
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after the first year, i fell in love with the sport and it was kind of a whirlwind. tavis: you were doing everything except running, so what do you make of that discovery? >> i had to find it myself. i had to see what i was in joining, what i was passionate about. i am grateful for that experience. so many things in life are a journey, and i was able to find that. >> there is a lesson for parents. so often parents push their kids, but your parents allow you to discover that on your own. >> that is something parents have to understand. even if their child is not showing athletic excellence in a certain sport, they still need to be involved. it does not have to be a military type of setting. they just need to get out and
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play and enjoy themselves and find it in themselves. tavis: you finished your degree at usc, but we live in a world where its emphasis is on everything but education. how important was it to you to make sure you finished your work? >> it was extremely important. i come from a family of educators. i was not going to survive if i did not finish. i promised my dad i would, and i did it at the same time i was competing in international track. it was tough, but i was fortunate enough to be a will to get it done. tavis: where the u.s. team was concerned, there were more women in this olympics than ever before. 44% was the number competing in the olympics. i think i wrote this down. yes, women in london, 44%
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participants, the most ever women. 29 out of 46 gold medals won by the u.s.. >> we did not go in there really talking about it our knowing it was going to happen, but i have heard so many stories about young girlsolympics and being iy it. that is what it is all about. tavis: this is a huge anniversary for title 9. what is your sense of how the field is or is not being leveled for women's sports across the board? >> the metaphor driving force in college athletics, i am just so grateful for how far we have come. i think it is just amazing on this anniversary to be able to see what was done at the olympics just because of that.
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tavis: i mentioned that you spent some time with president clinton lately. do you like these platforms, to be able to speak, are you comfortable with that or are you getting comfortable with that? >> i am getting comfortable with it. it is such an opportunity to be able to speak about things and be passionate about it. and to hopefully have some influence on things. it is something i do enjoy doing and i am passionate about the causes, so that makes it easy. tavis: i have been reading a lot lately about the union that the runners are trying to get. tell me what this is about and the reason for. clue me in about this union. >> coming together in trying to
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have a voice. a lot of decisions have been made and a lot of athletes feel we did not have enough representation. it is just about having someone at the table when these big decisions are being discussed. that is what we have come together to do. tavis: you will be right at 30 in rio. are you going to try to do this again? >> i am going to try to do it again. i am still just really enjoying what i am doing and very passionate about it. i feel like i am in my prime, and i am going to get a shot. >> the games are four years from now, so take me through a four- year journey. when will you start to ramp up again? take me from now to rio. >> i go back to training in a few weeks and i will be preparing for the 2013 world
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championships in russia. we have those in 2013, and then have an off year. our season is in europe. it is, like golf when you go on tour, you go from place to place and you are repeating -- you are competing with the exact same people that are in the olympics. then the next year we will help world shipping chips again, and the cycle keeps going. before you know it, it will be time to gear up for the olympic trials and do it all over again. each year you are preparing yourself for the olympics and building on the basics you have from the previous year. tavis: we read every day in the paper about what michael phelps is making for endorsements. i am not talking numbers, but you make a pretty good living
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doing this? >> i am blessed to be able to do that. sponsors,ot of great boxer from 92 gatorade. -- from nike to gatorade. i have been blessed to be able to make a living doing what i love. tavis: i want to go back to your parents now. obviously they are proud of you and all of that, but how do they feel about all this success? >> they are very, very proud of me. it to see mey walking with the lord. it always comes back to the reason why you do it. this is great. tavis: so that europe 2014 when you have a year off, does that
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mean for a whole year you will not talk to bobbie? >> it is just a year without a major championship, but i still talk to bobby on a daily basis. tavis: bobby did his job. >> that is why we deal with the craziness. tavis: i got way too comfortable holding these things. i have been talking for 30 minutes. congratulations. >> thank you for having me. tavis: come back anytime. that is our show for tonight. thanks for tuning in. until next time, keep the faith.
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>> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with salman khan on his unique ideas about how to better educate kids around the world. that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.
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