DES MOINES, Iowa July 27 (Reuters) - The fire is still there for Allyson Felix and so is the dream.
America's most decorated track and field athlete may have missed out on a medal at this week's U.S. national championships as she returned to competition for the first time in 13 months after having a daughter in November, but the quest goes on for the six-time Olympic champion.
"This is a stepping stone," the 33-year-old mentioned several times at the meeting at Drake University that doubled as the U.S. world championships trials.
"I want to be back in the Olympics," said Felix. "I want them more than anything. I want to go out on my terms."
Her best time in the championships, 51.45 seconds in the 400 metres semi-finals, was two seconds slower than her personal best of 49.26 seconds in 2015 and she finished sixth in Saturday's final in 51.94.
Yet Felix said she found a new spark.
"Being in this environment and being back in a final, it kind of got the juices flowing," she said. "It's going to be a lot easier going into next year and getting a full year of training."
Not that the 2019 work year is over.
"I think Bobby still has some training for me," said Felix of longtime coach Bob Kersee. "I don't think he is done with me yet.
"I think we want to get in a position to train. I might race a little bit more."
There is also a potential spot on the U.S. 4x400 metres relay team for late September's world championships in Doha.
"If I feel like I’m in, you know, good form to be able to help the team, yes," Felix said when asked if she would accept a spot. "If I'm not, I'll be a cheerleader."
But with or without the relay, this year is about what Felix called the "big goal" - the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"This gave me a taste," she said of the U.S. championships. "The fire is there. I will be back next year." (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)