On Saturday morning Allyson Felix received the baton from Sydney McLaughlin and sprinted around the track 400 meters to hand off the baton to Dalilah Muhammad. Muhammad then passed the baton to Athing Mu who coasted to the finish line and just like that, these four women had secured the gold in the Women’s 4×400 meter final. This was the 2nd Olympic medal for McLaughlin and Mu. This was the 3rd Olympic medal for Muhammad. For Felix, this was her 11th Olympic medal which makes her the most decorated American Track & Field Olympian. What a journey for the 35-year-old sprinter, who in her last Olympic race got the gold. “I feel at peace,” Felix said. “I went out, had all the confidence in these amazing women. I wanted to take it all in one last time around, and it was special.”
As Felix is exiting the stage as an athlete at the top of her game, she has entered a new phase in her life as an advocate for athletes that are women and mothers. This final performance cemented her message that becoming a mother does not mean that your best days are behind you as an athlete. Felix, who is passionate about her stance, graciously took it upon herself to cover the cost of childcare for mothers competing at the Olympic games. Felix teamed up with Athleta, her sponsor, along with the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF). Together they launched The Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants. This grant program committed $200,000 for the nine athletes that participated in the Tokyo Olympics.
“As a mom and an athlete, I know first-hand the obstacles women face in sports,” Felix explained.
Felix went on to explain, “It was important to me and to Athleta that our partnership reflects that I am more than just an athlete. In fact, part of my contract includes provisions for my daughter, Camryn, to join me whenever I am competing. But not everyone has access to this type of support from a partner or sponsor. These grants are about showing the industry that all mom-athletes need this same comprehensive support to be able to participate in their athletic endeavors.”
“One of my first races back after giving birth to my daughter, Camryn, was the World Championships,” Felix told Fast Company. “Not only was I still breastfeeding and physically and mentally exhausted from being a first-time mom while training and competing — I was assigned a roommate at the competition. There was no way I could bring my daughter into a shared room with another athlete who is trying to get in her zone.”
The recipients of the grants will be included in further conversations about how the industry needs to change. With a fierce competitor like Felix at the helm, change is on the horizon.
For now, it is time to celebrate the best to ever do it. Felix, who is in a league of her own.
“I feel like I have no regrets,” she said. “I feel like I’ve given my all to this sport and there’s nothing left on this Olympic stage I need to do now.”