Olympic track star Allyson Felix has won Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award for 2022.
The 11-time Olympic medalist (seven gold) retired from the sport in July at age 36. She competed in five consecutive Olympics Games, won 10 national titles in three different events and holds 20 World Athletic Championship medals (14 gold). Her résumé makes her the most decorated athlete in the history of world athletics championships.
On top of all that success, Felix experienced a difficult birth of her daughter Camryn in 2018. Felix had been diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, high blood pressure that can result in fatality in pregnancies. Camryn was born two months early, and Felix had to go into an emergency C-section to deliver her daughter. Camryn was cared for in the NICU for about a month after she was born.
While she was pregnant, Felix didn’t want her sponsor Nike to know she was carrying. The Olympian trained at dawn while she was six months pregnant so no one would see her baby bump.
Felix ended up choosing not to re-sign with Nike after giving birth because the company declined to allow maternity benefits in her 12-month proposed deal.
Shortly after, Felix took a stand. Her voice and actions led Nike to announce a new maternity policy that includes 18 months of pay for sponsored athletes who have children. Felix did not choose to work with Nike again, though, and was signed by Athleta instead.
“I always think about my daughter and the world that she’s gonna grow up in, and I would love for that to be a more equal world,” Felix said in her interview with Sports Illustrated. “I would love for her to not have any limitations or think about anything twice because she’s a girl. So those are all things that continue to push me and to know that there’s so much more to do.”
Eight months after giving birth to Camryn, Felix was back competing on the track. She won her 12th and 13th world championship gold medals before the U.S. trials for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
She ended up finishing her Olympic career in the summer of 2021 in Tokyo by winning bronze in the 400 meters and gold in the 4×400-meter relay.