From the Viewsroom

Track of glory

B Baskar | Updated on June 24, 2021

Allyson Felix’s story is one of fortitude and perseverance

A couple of days ago, when most Indian sports fans were glued to the World Test Championship Finals at Southampton, US athlete Allyson Felix quietly wrote herself into the history books of sporting glory. By qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in the 400 metres event at the US Olympics trial at Eugene, Oregon she made a huge statement for women athletes world over.

Felix, as the most successful US female athlete, has six Golds and three Silver medals from four Olympics, having made her debut way back in the 2004 Athens Games.

But what makes Felix’s achievements more remarkable is that her career was almost derailed in 2018 by a very difficult pregnancy where she had to endure an emergency C-section. But three months later she was back at training and a year later she won a Gold medal at the Doha World Athletics Championship in the 400 metres mixed relay race.

There have been a few women athletes who have come back to compete after motherhood. Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won two Gold medals (100 metres and 4X100 relay) at the Doha Championship in 2019 after giving birth to a boy in 2017. Tennis’s Serena Williams is another inspiring example.

But what makes Felix’s story special is her public spat with sporting giant Nike over her contract. After the birth of her child Nike in its contract with Felix refused to guarantee that her payments wouldn’t be cut if her performance dipped. Felix wrote a newspaper article highlighting Nike’s unfair treatment to female athletes. This forced Nike to change its contractual obligations towards female athletes. Felix now is an activist highlighting the racial disparities in maternal healthcare in the US. Thanks to her fortitude and activism she has been an inspiring figure for female athletes.

Published on June 24, 2021

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