Defying all odds: Allyson Felix bids farewell after two decades on track

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By Isiaq N. Oluwamayowa

Allyson Felix, the most decorated U.S track and field athlete in history has officially retired from her athletic career after 20 years of dedicated work.

She had her final showdown on the field during the ongoing 2022 World Athletics Championship as she was part of team America in the 4 x 400m relay race which was held in Eugene, Oregon on Friday 15th of July, 2022.

In the first instance, viewers thought Felix would end with gold but the final lap proved otherwise as the team came in third place.

In this final race, the 36 years old Felix bowed out with a bronze medal in the mixed relay race. Therefore, making her an all-time total of 19 World Championship medals with 13 being gold — a feat no other athlete has achieved in the history of the World Athletics Championship. It was a delightful race for the Olympian as America has not hosted the competition since 1996 and she was happy to be signing off on home soil.

Felix has also amassed 11 Olympic medals throughout her career, 7 of which are gold. This comes to a total of 30 medals with 20 being gold in Felix’s career, officially making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.

Although Felix has spent years showing how much of a great athlete she is, her acts of bravery do not only end on the track. She is also an activist who fights for black maternal rights in the United States.

After experiencing a life-threatening situation in 2018 while pregnant with her daughter, it was discovered she had pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication that may occur as a result of a sudden rise in blood pressure which is fatal to both the mother and the developing baby. Felix eventually gave birth to her daughter prematurely and the baby spent about a month in intensive care.

According to the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), pre-eclampsia occurs in 1 in every 25 pregnancies in the United States. Research also suggests Black Americans are at a higher risk. Felix’s personal experience with this condition inspired her to help raise awareness of the maternal mortality rate.

Felix has consistently acted as a voice for women and is now an activist speaking out about rights and injustice towards women in sports and black mothers. She wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times in 2019 explaining how Nike wanted to cut off 70% of her pay after becoming a mother. She spoke about it being a major issue women face especially in sports where their sponsors cut their pay once pregnant. Perhaps her speaking out led to Nike changing its stance on maternity pay and not applying salary reductions a few months after. 

However, after making her voice heard, Felix later parted with Nike and got a sponsorship deal with Gap’s Athleta. She also went to launch her own footwear company with her brother in 2021.

Felix was also included in Times Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People both in 2021 and 2022. She has been nominated for the 2022 ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Award for the categories of best Olympian for women’s sports and the best record-breaking performance for surpassing Carl Lewis in the United States Track and Field record.

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