Olympic sprinter, Allyson Felix achieved her 12th Gold Medal at the AAF World Athletics Championships yesterday, beating the record she previously shared with Usain Bolt. And to top it off, this was Felix’s first major championship after a 13 month maternity leave hiatus, following the birth of her 10 month old daughter, Camryn.
Over the weekend, Felix also ran the second leg of the 4x400m mixed relay as part of Team USA, contributing to a time of 3 minute and 9.34 seconds- another world record.
She now holds a total of 26 medals, 6 of which are Olympic Golds .
Achieving such incredible heights in this time frame is particularly impressive given the health issues Felix has battled with over the past 24 months. Camryn was born via emergency C-section at 32 weeks in November last year when Felix was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia.
The athlete also struggled with professional setbacks when she was forced to renegotiate her contract with Nike, after it ended in December 2017.
As negotiations moved ahead at the same time as her pregnancy, Felix was only offered 30% of what she was paid before, despite being a world record holder on par with Usain Bolt.
Felix voiced her frustrations in the New York Times in May, saying “If that’s what they think I’m worth now, I accept that. What I’m not willing to accept is the enduring status quo around maternity.”
During negotiations, she requested that wouldn’t be financially penalised if she failed to perform at her best in the months after her potentially life-threatening childbirth. Nike declined, but following backlash, after she and other women spoke out, the company changed its policy around female athletes’ pay during and after pregnancy.
Felix is now signed on as the first sponsored athlete for the women-focused Athleta, and is currently working towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
After her pregnancy, Allyson Felix also added her voice to the discussion around maternal mortality risks for black women, joining other high profile women such as Beyonce and Serena Williams.
“I wasn’t ready when things went wrong; I wasn’t prepared with the questions to ask, and a plan in place,” she told The Root. “I want the next woman behind me not to feel that way.”