Allyson Felix to cover childcare costs for athletes at Tokyo Olympics

“As a mom and an athlete, I know first-hand the obstacles women face in sports," the five-time Olympian said.

Allyson Felix, one of the most decorated athletes in women’s track and field, has announced plans to pay it forward with a new partnership that will cover childcare costs for mothers participating in the Summer Games. 

The mother has teamed with her primary sponsor, Athleta, and the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) to launch The Power of She Fund: Child Care Grants. The program will commit $200,000 to childcare costs for nine mom-athletes competing and participating in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, as reported by Fast Company

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)

According to reports, initial recipients are Olympic hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry and Olympic saber fencer Mariel Zagunis, who will each receive $10K. The group also includes Natasha Hastings, Aliphine Tuliamuk (track and field athletes), Kaleo Kanahele Maclay (sitting volleyball), Natalie Schneider (wheelchair basketball), Elana Meyers Taylor (bobsled), Lora Webster (sitting volleyball), and Jamie Whitmore (para-cycling), per CBS 17.

“As a mom and an athlete, I know first-hand the obstacles women face in sports,” said Felix, six-time Olympic gold medalist, and three-time world champion.

“It was important to me and to Athleta that our partnership reflects that I am more than just an athlete. In fact, part of my contract includes provisions for my daughter, Camryn, to join me whenever I am competing. But not everyone has access to this type of support from a partner or sponsor. These grants are about showing the industry that all mom-athletes need this same comprehensive support to be able to participate in their athletic endeavors.”

The grant recipients will also participate in roundtable discussions about systemic change across the industry. The event will be hosted by WSF and advocacy partners Mother and the National Women’s Law Center. 

Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix reacts after competing in the Women’s 400 Meters Semi-Finals on day 2 of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track (Credit: Getty Images)

“This money has given us such a big breath of relief in the past few weeks,” inaugural recipient Lora Webster added.

“One of my first races back after giving birth to my daughter, Camryn, was the World Championships,” Felix tells Fast Company. “Not only was I still breastfeeding and physically and mentally exhausted from being a first-time mom while training and competing — I was assigned a roommate at the competition. There was no way I could bring my daughter into a shared room with another athlete who is trying to get in her zone.”

At 35, Felix already has nine Olympic medals, making her the second most decorated American track athlete behind Carl Lewis, theGrio reported. 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 said her sponsor Athleta, Gap Inc.’s activewear brand, “get that I am a whole person beyond the track.” 

She added, “They jumped right in to support my training as well as my passions and advocacy platforms. In fact, part of my contract with Athleta includes provisions for Cammy to join me whenever I am competing. ”

TheGrio’s Sytonia Reid contributed to this report.

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