He has overcome a Usain Bolt in world golds, she has nine Olympic medals and is the athlete most decorated from United States. In his long sports career, the “super olympic”Allyson Felix, 35, has opted to combine high-level athletics with motherhood, she was about to lose his life in childbirth and he confronted Nike for its policies against female athletes who wanted to have children.
Now she has founded her own brand for women who want to be mothers. All this, says the athlete, is motivated by a single goal: “to be more like Christ every day”.
Speed, “a gift from God to glorify him”
Allyson was raised in a california christian family and from a young age he was able to deepen his faith with his father, then a seminary professor.
At 16, Allyson was already the junior world champion in the 100-meter dash. Since he debuted at the age of 18 at the 2004 Athens Olympics, the athlete admits that her talent is “a gift from God” you want to squeeze: “I want to use it to the best of my ability to glorify it.”
“Faith runs my life”, said a Los Angeles Times. “It’s the reason that I run, and I feel that I have been blessed with this gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the victories and grind of professional sports, but faith helps me see that there is a greater purpose. ”
Pregnancy, “a terrifying phenomenon”
“For most of my life, I focused on one thing: winning medals. And she was good at that, ”she explained when she told his story on New York Times. In fact, between 2005 and 2019 it adds 6 Olympic golds (Beijing, London and Rio, and before, in Athens 2004, it had been silver) and 14 golds in world championships absolutes and indoor, in the specialties of 200, 4×100 and 4×400 meters.
But in 2018 Allyson broadened her sights and decided to start “a dream that was crazy: I wanted to be a professional athlete and a mother”.
Then Nike was the sponsor of the athlete. “We believe in women and girls“One of the directors of the sports company told Allyson. That comment convinced her to sign the contract.
It was years later that he learned that none of that was true. When in 2018 Nike met Allyson’s pregnancy “was a scary time”.
She was hiding her pregnancy and running … Nike is scary
“The culture about pregnancy in athletics is silence. You get pregnant and hide it. You come to feel like you are risking too much when your entire livelihood depends on it”. To avoid problems, the athlete came to compete when she was eight and nine weeks pregnant.
That year, the athlete was negotiating a contract renewal with Nike, which had ended in December 2017. Allyson’s personal trajectory and her meteoric career were not enough for the corporation to relentlessly demand full compliance with the contract clauses. Not being possible due to pregnancy, they reduced 70% of the benefits that corresponded to him.
Allyson could have rejected the proposal and even changed sponsor, but decided to fight.
“I have done many collaborations with Nike, but I am a mother and I cannot keep quiet anymore. I will not give in on maternity issues. Not because I want to have more children, but because it is not the right thing to do, also for the women who come after me ”.
Mother and daughter, in danger of death
When her pregnancy reached the 32nd week, a check-up that would initially be routine set off all the alarms. Allyson had a picture of severe eclampsia, which endangered the lives of mother and daughter. “Everything fell apart quickly.”
Immediately transferred to the hospital, she was operated on by means of a emergency cesarean section, of which her daughter Camryn was born weighing just over 1500 grams.
The athlete’s faith was a pillar on which she leaned to cope with the situation. “Many times you want faith to be the answer to everything. There are real moments that are very difficult, but they help me learn a lesson, and that is there is a purpose or reason why these difficulties take place”.
Despite pressure from Nike and the change in hiring conditions, Allyson did not give in and continued with her pregnancy.
Defend athletes who want to be mothers
Her difficult work experience, emergency delivery, and the risk to her daughter’s life led Allyson to participate in organizations that help pregnant mothers What Better Starts For All and to develop a strong vocation in defense of women who, like her, were harmed by their desire to be mothers.
Shortly after, Allyson decided to make public the contractual abuses to which the company had subjected him, breaking the confidentiality clauses that Nike forced so that situations like that did not come to light. Felix’s was a voice that, contrary to what the athlete thought, encouraged other women in her situation to fight these policies.
It is the case of Alysia Montaño, how do you collect Mark, also contributed to visualizing pregnancy and elite athletics, and pointed to Nike’s lack of recognition of the struggle that women have had to sustain to become recognize the needs and labor protection of pregnant women.
“If you want to support women, we appreciate it, but there are people who need to rectify. They have done so much harm to women and their careers you have to think that making announcements without acknowledging the struggle is not the way to do it, ”Montaño said.
Other athletes such as Sanya Richards-Ross or Tasha Danvers-Smith joined. “When they I communicated my intention to be a mother, her response was that we would pause my contract and that they would stop paying me”.
Maternity victory over Nike
Shortly after, Nike gave in to Felix and the athletes for motherhood. “If an athlete becomes pregnant, Nike will not reapply any performance-related reduction for 18 months afterward,” announced Global Marketing Corporate Director John Slusher.
Many other companies followed in Nike’s footsteps, but it was too late. For Allyson it was not enough to respect the birth rate, and at your own risk and expense, decided to promote it from the sport.
Therefore, recently has announced the creation of its own sports brand, Saysh addressed to “that woman who has been overlooked, or feels that her voice has not been heard. All my experience to become a mother has helped me to know my true competitor: inequality ”.
“I am here using my voice to create a change for us as mothers and for all women who want to be mothers”.
Allyson Felix announces the launch of Saysh, her sports brand that will support pregnant women.
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Allyson Felix, the Olympic athlete who runs to glorify God and defends mothers against Nike