Challenging Expectations: A Record-Breaking Mother

Allyson Felix, 33 year old Olympic sprinter, broke a record that had been held by Usain Bolt, “the world’s fastest man.” Felix also won her 12th gold medal at a track-and-field World Championship. She has competed in four Olympic Games and has won nine medals, six of which were gold.

Allyson Felix holds daughter Camryn after running the 400-meter final at the U.S. outdoor championships.  (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Allyson Felix and daughter, Camryn, after running the 400m final at the US outdoor championships. (Source: The Washington Post/Charlie Neibergall)

This win was no easy feat and was not made easier by Felix having given birth 10 months prior. The birth was difficult, Felix suffered from severe preeclampsia and had a C-section as a result. She chose to fight and to challenge herself and the industry surrounding her. In sport, athletes who become mothers are often punished for not performing their best shortly after child-birth. She fought to change her contract with Nike to ensure that she would not be punished if she was unable to perform at her best in the time surrounding childbirth.

Mothers are often hidden as athletes in elite sport and there is often little organizational support in sport for women and especially mothers. Elite athletes as mothers are forced to deal with societal pressures of motherhood and of the primarily masculine context of elite sport. Felix has been using her platform to advocate for women in sports, with an emphasis on mothers.“Our journey to motherhood and back is bigger than us and bigger than sport. I believe it’s about overcoming and that is something we all have to do,” she wrote on Instagram on October 2nd. “I have seen the power of the collective. The need to speak your truth. It’s a pivotal time for women in sport. We can create change. Women, let’s support each other. Uplift and encourage. Open doors for one another. Celebrate and elevate each other. We can all win. This is sisterhood.”

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Featured image: Allyson Felix with her Olympic medals. (Source: Sportswallah)

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