Allyson Felix: World Athletics Championships record-breaker on life-changing year

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By Tom Reynolds
BBC Sport at Doha
Becoming the athlete in World Championships history as she did in Doha – would have been all-consuming for Allyson Felix. Her has changed .
With a baby has also given birth to the activist. Felix is no longer a ready participant in theculture of silence around maternity rights in elite athletics. She has discovered her voice.
Hence the three words that dominate the homepage of her private website:
Athlete. Mother. Activist.
Felix the mum is running late. We meet on the 42nd floor of her resort overlooking the Gulf.
Together with the World Athletics Championships in town, these surroundings are fantastic for a sprint champion, although maybe not for 10-month old girl Camryn it seems. Her entire body clock has to adapt to the Middle East and as a consequence 33, Felix, was up through the night.
Its not a new experience for somebody who spent a lot of last December sleeping in a chair in a childrens intensive care unit.
Camryn was born on 28 weighing 3lbs 7oz. Felix had gone to hospital for a regular check-up at 32 weeks to be informed that her and her infant were in mortal peril.
Felix suffered from pre-eclampsia – a condition for both mom and baby. Her blood pressure was rising while Camryns heart-rate decelerated.
And 10 hours Felix gave birth to Camryn by emergency Caesarean.
Ten months and a day after, Felix procured a record-breaking 12th World Championships gold medal in the 4x400m mixed relay in Doha, surpassing Usain Bolt. On Sundays closing day she added gold number 13 because the womens 4x400m relay was won by USA.
Last Christmas when I was in the hospital that I couldnt have thought at all that I would be here in Doha winning awards, she states. This instant that was supposed to be so happy was happy, but it was really scary and uncertain.
Out of that uncertainty purpose was discovered by Felix. Primarily through a devotion to her daughter in the here and saw her spend every waking moment from the intensive care unit. But in addition, she started a campaign of activism.
May saw the generally shy Felix address a House Ways and Means Committee in the US Congress, highlighting the issue of maternal mortality among ladies. In the united states, black girls are as likely to die during childbirth and less likely to suffer from complications.
Introducing herself Camryns Mother, Felix began her address with the words:I want to share the story of the two most terrifying days of my life Looking back it is no less sore.
She states:When I was in the hospital, it was such a scary situation. I feel like I am someone whos jobless and I was in that circumstance and was aware but not educated. And when Im not fully educated then are a lot of girls who arent completely educated as well. Speaking to Congress had to happen in order to save lives. Its far larger than game.
Subsequently Felix took over pregnancy rights for athletes on sportswear superpower Nike. She was involved while dealing as new mother with her life. Nike needed to cover Felix70 percent less than previously, which she stated at the time she was willing to take.
What Im unwilling to accept is that the enduring status quo round pregnancy, she wrote in a powerful New York Times article published in May. I asked Nike to contractually ensure I wouldnt be punished if I didnt perform at my best at the weeks surrounding childbirth. I wished to set a new benchmark. In case all these protections couldnt be, secured by me personally, one of Nikes most broadly marketed athletes, who would? Nike declined.
Felix received messages of support from women throughout the range of the working world for speaking out. And while fellow athletes also shared their tales of discrimination, her inspiration was closer to home.
I continually thought of Camryn, she says.
Ever since I was a teenager growing up in the game, silence is what I saw. Whether it was women or teammates, it might be [kept] under wraps. It was only after they had secured a contract theyd make their pregnancy public.
Id seen it time and time again so it got to the point where I didnt even question it, I just thought:Oh, thats how things are finished. Until I found myself in that situation. And I thought:This really isnt the way and this isnt right.
Considering Camryn rising up, I was just constantly thinking I wanted it to be different for her
It will be. Back in May, Nike announced changes to the maternity contracts that make sure that female athleteswill not more be financially penalised for having a child.
Our voices have electricity, proved to be Felixs simple reaction. A move away from Nike to become the face of Gap sportswear brand Athleta and that, announced in July.
Felix has admitted she was scared to mention having a baby. Can she think the transformation of the previous ten months?
I cant. Its really mad but at precisely exactly the exact same time I am quite happy I have made it , she states.
I expect that we have seen a little bit of shift and women can decide when they would like to begin a household. Should they choose to wait if they opt to get a family or thats great that is also excellent. But that is about them determining whats appropriate for their loved ones and not because any of the or of any requirements of a sponsor or any penalty.
For me its so much bigger than track and field. Thats my passion and I love the sport but I really like that its given me a platform to talk about issues that affect lives. Where I find that the very best meaning Thats. I never could have imagined it but Im sure glad it has happened.
Just saying the termactivist brings a smile to the Americans face.
Thats become the area I have seen the most growth, Felix says. Previously I was certainly worried about what the reaction could be on my opinion. Exactly the impacts or the backlash would be.
But we are discussing another generation. I dont need anyone to have to go that I went through. Those are the things that I want to 15, While I think about the word legacy and those are the things I need to be remembered for. And sometimes youve just got to be in a challenging situation or position to make some progress.
Life as a mother has ensured the log of this season has more openings than she might have imagined, although felix has been a major fan of keeping training diaries throughout her career. In that context, Felix should be pleased with her achievements – on and off the trail.
I am usually very hard on myself and that I am, she states. However, I believe this year has been very difficult for me personally and Im proud of myself. As to me I feel like its all coming slowly I am very critical of the athlete facet. Nevertheless, as soon as Im able to look back and realise that my health was in query not too long ago I just need to be thankful
Grateful using six golds and counting – as a athlete. Grateful as a mom – having a child. Grateful as a activist – using a voice that is newly-discovered that she has every intention of using.
Not thankful to be asked to position her trio of duties.
I believe that is an impossible question, she says. Mother I would have to rank as number one for sure. As a mom you simply figure out things . You dont have any option because somebody is depending upon you. That piece is ready.
And then I feel as if athlete and activist are arriving in hand. I feel like activist is my own duty although athlete is my job. Along with a privilege also. Any chance I must speak out I will.
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