Allyson Felix isn’t just a shining star on the American Olympic track team—she also carries the blessed title of ‘mother.’
In a recent interview, Felix shared the joys of motherood in spite of a culture that paints that high calling as a burden on women.
“Becoming a mom has been so incredible,” Felix told Good Morning America. “It was a little scary starting out; I gave birth prematurely at 32 weeks, and saw my daughter fight in the NICU. Just… watching her grow has changed my life, it’s changed my motivation, and now as I train for this Olympics, I am so proud to partner with Pantene to really reflect that legacy. It’s so much bigger than on the track. It’s me as a mother, and me as an advocate for women, and I’m just really grateful that they are reflecting that.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Felix, however, and her stellar performances have not made her immune from maternal discrimination in our anti-life culture.
In an op-ed for The New York Times in 2019, Felix claimed that Nike had tried to force a 70% pay cut on her during her first pregnancy. The sports clothing giant also refused to guarantee Felix that she wouldn’t be punished for reduced performance during pregnancy and the postpartum period.
“I’ve been one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes,” she wrote at the time. “If I can’t secure maternity protections, who can?”
These setbacks haven’t held Felix down, thankfully.
She went on to become the most decorated athlete in World Athletics Championships history across both gender categories, and her fifth Olympic games are on the horizon.
Even her thriving life as a mother came as something of a surprise to Felix. “I think it’s really looked at as you can only do one,” she said in another interview. “I know even for myself, when I thought about becoming a mom I always kind of imagined it happening when I was done with my career.”
Felix is hardly the only woman to be plagued with fears that she’ll be discarded by employers or sponsors if she becomes a mother. Phoebe Wright, another runner who had been sponsored by Nike, said back in 2019 that “getting pregnant is the kiss of death for a female athlete. There’s no way I’d tell Nike if I were pregnant.”
Felix, however, fought back.
“Becoming a mom — it shifted my focus to thinking about this world that my daughter will grow up in,” she said. “I don’t want her to have the same battle. [Motherhood] gave me that final bit of push that I needed and helped me find my voice so that I could speak on these very important issues.”
“Whether it’s as a professional athlete or in the corporate world or whatever, I think it’s really sometimes seen that you’re going into this next chapter of life [when you have a baby] and I just, I think that’s a misconception,” the Olympian declared. “There’s no reason that you can’t have your best performances after becoming a mother, or do your best work. [Motherhood] is something that takes you to the next level and gives you even more reason to go after whatever that goal is.”
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