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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Inching Toward Retirement, Allyson Felix Ramping Up Advocacy Efforts

  • Felix, an 11-time Olympic medalist, spoke with FOS during a Title IX anniversary summit about continuing to advocate for equality for mothers.
  • At this weekend's U.S. Championships, she is leading an effort with her sponsor Athleta and nonprofit &Mother to provide accessible child care. 
Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix’s epic track career is winding down — and as she competes in her final U.S. Championships this week at Hayward Field, she’s already thinking about building on her legacy as the most decorated track star in Olympic history.

Felix is using the event she first competed at 21 years ago to make another statement for equality, teaming up with Athleta and nonprofit &Mother to provide accessible child care for the U.S. Championships. 

The six-time Olympic champ and 11-time Olympic medalist broke down the effort at the Front Office Sports Title IX Summit

“This was absolutely the reason that I decided to run this final year, because I really felt like this was something that I wanted to do before I left the sport,” Felix said. “It means that if you are a mother — even if you’re a father — if you’re a coach and you’re participating at our national championships, you can bring your child and we have childcare for them.”

“And it’s just another way to show up to support. And it was something that was just really important to me and that I wanted to be able to do before I left the sport.”

Felix, 36, made a major statement in 2019 when she left Nike after the shoe giant cut her pay on maternity leave (Nike has since changed its maternity leave policies). Felix teamed with Athleta later that year. 

“I started a family, and I wasn’t fully supported [by Nike],” Felix said. “And I had really seen that happen since I was a teenager with teammates and just colleagues, and I saw women struggle.” 

“When it came to me and my situation, I felt like here is an opportunity that I can speak out. And I didn’t know at the time if anything was going to happen or if anything was going to change, and I was terrified. But I think becoming a mother really just gave me that bit of courage that I needed to say, ‘My daughter can’t also be the one to take on this fight.’ Her generation, it can’t be left to them. And so no matter what my consequences are, I’m going to just speak my truth.”

Next month’s World Championships — which like the U.S. Championships will be held in Eugene, Oregon — are expected to be Felix’s last world-class running competition. 

But she will still be running and using events to further her efforts toward equality. She’s organizing a street race in Los Angeles on Aug. 7, an event that aims to continue her advocacy for child care and also serve as her sendoff.

“When I thought about, ‘Where do I want to end my career?,’” Felix said. “I thought that I haven’t been able to compete too much in my [hometown] and have family and friends come out to support me. And so I wanted to be sent off in this way. And so it’s really incredible to be able to do that.”

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