Allyson Felix qualifies for fifth Olympic Games, first as a mom

"I just wanted to really show her, no matter what, that you do things with character, integrity, and you don't give up,” Olympian Allyson Felix said about her 2-year-old daughter, Camryn.

After a stellar performance at the 400-meter Olympic finals on Sunday, track star Allyson Felix has qualified for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

At 35, Felix already has nine Olympic medals, making her the second most decorated American track athlete behind Carl Lewis. She’s now in the running to claim that number one title for herself, the New York Times reports. 

In 2018, Felix gave birth to her daughter Camryn Grace via emergency C-section. Felix was pregnant when she renewed her contract with Nike, which at the time, had lackluster maternity protections that directly impacted the track phenom.

She shared her experience negotiating with the athletic brand in a 2019 New York Times op-ed. 

“What I’m not willing to accept is 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…,” Felix said at the time. “Nike declined. We’ve been at a standstill ever since.” 

Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix celebrates with her daughter Camryn after finishing second in the Women’s 400 Meters Final on day three of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track (Credit: Getty Images)

Felix’s daughter is now two. She and Felix’s husband Kenneth Ferguson, a former hurdler and sprinter, were at Oregon’s Hayward Field cheering her on during the Olympic Trials this weekend.

The 2021 Tokyo Games will be Felix’s fifth and final Olympics performance where she is expected to compete in the 400 meters and 4 X 400-meter races, according to ESPN. This will be the first time that Felix will step out on the Olympic world stage as a mom.

In 2004, Felix, then 18, made her debut in Athens, Greece, winning a silver medal.  

The six-time Olympic gold medalist said her daughter has been a motivating force this year.

“I just wanted to really show her, no matter what, that you do things with character, integrity, and you don’t give up. And to me, whether that was winning, losing, no matter the outcome, I wanted to stay consistent with that,” said Felix. “Having her as motivation through these past couple of years has just given me a whole new drive.”

Felix finished second in the Olympic Trials’ 400-meter final with a time of 50.02 seconds from lane 8, which is the second outermost lane. She will join 29-year-old Quanera Hayes, also a new mom, who won first place at the trials, and 23-year-old Haitian-American athlete Wadeline Jonathas.

The three are now primed to bring Black Girl Magic to the Tokyo Olympic track and in a sweet post-race moment, Felix and Hayes were shown introducing their children to each other on the field.

“Man, it has been a fight to get here. And one thing I know how to do is fight, so I just wanted to do that all the way home,” Felix told NBC during an interview after the race. 

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!