American sprinter Allyson Felix made history again Saturday when she won gold in the 4×400-meter relay. The 35-year-old is now the most decorated U.S. track athlete in Olympic history. She passes sprinting legend Carl Lewis with the most track medals of any U.S. athlete. Felix’s victory at the Tokyo Games on Saturday marked the 11th Olympic medal for her. Of the 11 medals, seven are gold and three are silver.
Felix combined with her American teammates to finish the 4x400m relay in 3 minutes, 16.85 seconds for a runaway victory. Poland finished second with a time of 3:20.53, and Jamaica finished third in 3:21.24.
Felix’s win on Saturday came just one day after becoming the most decorated woman in Olympic track history when she won bronze in the women’s 400-meter final in Tokyo.
The athlete began her Olympic career at 18 years old when she competed in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. The first time she won gold was at the Beijing Games.
This is the first time Felix is competing as a mother. In 2018, she spoke about how childbirth nearly claimed her life and that of her child. Felix has a daughter, Camryn, who she gave birth to at 32 weeks after an emergency C-section due to severe pre-eclampsia in November 2018.
In an interview following her performance in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic trials in June, she said: “Today I thought about all the things. I thought about us fighting in the NICU, fighting for my life…Whatever happened, I just knew all glory to the most high.”
Ten months after giving birth, Felix won her 12th world championship gold medal, breaking sprinter Usain Bolt’s record.
Recently, Felix said she was told by Nike to ‘know her place’ when she asked the company to put a system in place to ensure that female Nike athletes wouldn’t be punished for pregnancy. At the time, she was a Nike athlete who had appeared in promotions and been seen wearing their logo on her racing tops and shorts. While recovering from her C-section, she proposed to renegotiate her contract with Nike for maternal protection that will ensure that she would not be punished if she didn’t perform well during her first week back.
“I felt pressure to return to form as soon as possible after the birth of my daughter in November 2018, even though I ultimately had to undergo an emergency C-section at 32 weeks because of severe pre-eclampsia that threatened the lives of me and my baby,” Felix wrote in the New York Times.
However, Nike refused her proposal and offered Felix a 70 percent pay cut. Dissatisfied with the offer, Felix broke ties with Nike in 2019 and also broke her non-disclosure agreement to tell her story.
“I faced a gender injustice that I couldn’t run away from. My employer did not support my maternity and my colleague’s maternity in a way that I could be proud of. I was told to know my place…Instead, I spoke up. I used my voice to fight for maternal protection for female athletes. No woman should have to choose between being a professional and being a Mother,” Felix wrote.
“What I’m not willing to accept is the enduring status quo around maternity…,” Felix noted. “I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could?”
Felix has since forged ahead and launched her own athletic brand footwear called Saysh. The footwear is built exclusively for women and anyone who buys a pair will receive a lifetime membership into the Saysh Collective.