Olympian Allyson Felix mobilizes for maternal protection

Rome, Italy, Jun 9, 2022: FELIX Allyson (USA) during the Golden Gala ‘Pietro Mennea’, Wanda Diamond League at Olimpico Stadium. Photo credit: Raffaele Conti 88, Shutterstock

By Angelia D. McGowan
Denver Urban Spectrum (via AP Storyshare)

Allyson Felix, five-time U.S. Olympian in track and field, is soaring on a different track these days working to advance women’s rights to maternal protection. She shared her journey to this new life of advocacy most recently as a keynote speaker at the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s annual luncheon at the Colorado Convention Center.

In front of a crowd of over 1,800 people, and later in this paragraph: She was training six days a week, five hours a day. She was on top of her nutrition. She enjoyed success in the 100-metre, 200-metre, 400-metre and 4×400-metre relays, becoming the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history.

When she wanted to start a family, she hit a wall.

She remembers not seeing a mother in her sport which was celebrated. She saw them lose sponsorships. She thought she had come to safety with Nike, her sponsor for nearly a decade. When told she would get 70% less pay while building her family, she was ready for it.

But she also wanted time to get back into optimal shape. This time and salary protection was not provided for in his Nike contract. It struck her that she didn’t want this for her daughter’s generation.

Her brother recommended she write an op-ed for the New York Times, to use her voice “even if it’s shaking.” On May 22, 2019, the publication published their article titled “Allyson Felix: My Own Nike Pregnancy Story”. Her op-ed followed an article published on May 12, 2019, by fellow Olympian Alysia Montaño titled “Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Want a Baby.”

The struggle for maternal protection had a national scene. Following public controversy, Nike adjusted its maternal policy in August 2019, promising not to implement a performance-related pay cut for 18 consecutive months, starting eight months ahead of schedule.

Felix said it was amazing and heartbreaking the amount of work to do. She told the crowd how proud she was of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado for its work and investment in women. The foundation’s mission is to catalyze the community to advance and accelerate economic opportunity for Colorado women and their families.

During her one-on-one onstage interview with Craig Hospital President and CEO Jandel Allen-Davis, MD, Felix shared more about her journey as a mother, business owner, and advocate for children’s rights. women.

She explained that after leaving Nike in 2019, she faced her next Olympics without running shoes. She explained how her brother, a male ally, encouraged her to design her own shoes. Saysh, co-founded by Felix and his brother Wes, quickly became a reality and she would end up wearing her own shoes at her fifth Olympic Games.

Shortly after leaving Nike, she will also sign an apparel sponsorship deal with Gap Inc.-owned apparel company Athleta in July 2019, becoming their first sponsored athlete.

Applauding Felix’s advocacy work, WFCO President and CEO Lauren Y. Casteel said, “We will not stay in our lane.

CBS4 sports anchor Romi Bean, who hosted the luncheon, called the Olympian to be on another level, making a difference for women.

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Colorado Women’s Foundation, visit www.wfco.org.

Naomi C. Amerson