10 Months After Giving Birth, Mom Breaks Usain Bolt’s World Record

A champion is a person who has defeated all rivals in a competition, and Allyson Felix is definitely one.

This amazing woman won gold in her 12th World Championship relay race, beating out Usain Bolt for having the most gold medals, she came out on top in a wage battle against Nike, and she did all of this postpartum.

Pregnancy is usually a death warrant of the career for women in sports, but Allyson Felix decided to have them both- her career, and motherhood. She fought stereotypes when she ran the mixed-gender 4×400 relay race at the World Championship and won gold only 10 months after birthing a premature baby via emergency cesarean section.

She now holds the record for the most gold medals at the track and field World Championships.

After the race, she said:

“It was really special… It’s been a crazy year for me, so just to be here to be running with this great team, I just feel so blessed. I’m just grateful to be healthy, to be working my way back. It feels good.”

Felix also summed up her response to the honor in one word on Twitter: “Humbled.”

This successful woman is already one of the most decorated track and field athletes.

She won medals during her entire life, she scored the Olympic gold medal six times and was decorated as a world champion 11 times, but at the age of 32, she felt she also wanted to be a mother.

During her pregnancy, she developed severe preeclampsia, a condition accompanied by very high blood pressure and multiple other risks for her and the unborn baby.

Therefore, her doctors decided to birth the child quickly to keep both of them safe. On November 28, 2018, Camryn Felix was born at 32 weeks, weighing three pounds and seven ounces.

The infant had to spend the following 29 days in NICU(neonatal intensive care unit). In September last year, she shared an emotional post about the time she spent there, before she welcomed her daughter.

Yet, she was determined to pursue her dreams, and she got back to work training for the next competition and won gold.

On the other hand, Felix, together with several other female athletes including Alysia Montano, Phoebe Wright, and Kara Goucher, fought Nike who wanted to decrease their sponsorship pay due to their pregnancy.

Felix explained that despite all her victories, Nike wanted to pay her 70 percent less than before. However, she stated that she would not accept the enduring status quo around maternity.

“ I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth. I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could?”

Nike refused it, so Felix dropped their deal and signed with Athleta, the first athlete to ever do so.

Her case made Nike receive backlash over the issue, so a month after Felix signed with Athleta, Nike changed its policy so that female athletes would not be “adversely impacted financially for pregnancy” for 18 months, six months longer than their previous policy.

Additionally, they stated that Nike is proud to sponsor thousands of female athletes. Due to their inconsistency in the approach across different sports, so they stated that in 2018, they have standardized their approach across all sports so that no female athlete is penalized financially for pregnancy.

Felix’s race to gold 10 months after giving birth is an incredible feat, but she admitted feeling pressure to return to form as soon as possible after the complicated pregnancy and birth.

Felix was attracted by Nike’s female-empowering initiative called the Girl Effect in the first place, and their treatment years later disappointed her.

She wrote:

“This isn’t just about pregnancy. We may stand behind the brands we endorse, but we also need to hold them accountable when they are marketing us to appeal to the next generation of athletes and consumers.”

Her story inspired numerous women out there who want to make a change and stand for themselves. Felix added:

 “I’ve always known that expressing myself could hurt my career. Tried not to show emotion, to anticipate what people expect from me and to do it. I don’t like to let people down. But you can’t change anything with silence.”

Her experience made her much stronger and braver:

“Do not sacrifice anything. You can have it all. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. It’s all about how you feel, what’s important to you and your family, the decisions that you make.

I think for so long, we’ve been forced to feel like we have to pick career or family. That you can’t have them both. And I think it’s just about managing it and speaking up about things.”

Felix is the most successful female track athlete in Olympic history and she is currently training for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.