With four Games to her name, Felix is an Olympic veteran accustomed to impeccable training conditions. Last year was very different; she trained on soccer fields and empty beaches.
“Really just having a solid place to train was the biggest challenge,” she says. “I never imagined that would be the case in the direction of Tokyo.”
Felix’s new training facilities had an advantage. For a seasoned sprinter accustomed to training in groups, the sound of cheering spectators watching her run through the streets of Los Angeles was a welcome antidote to the isolation induced by the pandemic.
“It was really cool because I think I was a bit lonely during the pandemic,” she says. “My neighbors certainly have a better understanding of what I’m doing now.”
Felix’s two-year-old daughter Camryn also made a few appearances on the track as the Olympian juggled motherhood and training. “Having a little girl at home is a whole new world,” she says. “It gave me a different motivation.”
Relying on the support of your family has been key to every Olympic journey, but especially this one.
Her husband, Kenneth Ferguson, took time off from work at Chrysler and the family moved to Los Angeles from Michigan so Felix could train with his trainer, Bob Kersee, before Tokyo 2020.
“It’s really a team effort, we focused on the Olympics as a family goal, and so it is [Ferguson] been amazing. ”
Juggling new parenthood on an unpredictable schedule can be taxing.
“None of these things happen on their own. There are so many people pouring into my life that they can help me get this opportunity.”
Building your legacy
Thinking about the kind of world she wants to raise her daughter in has opened her eyes. “I always had the desire to win […] now it’s really about how I want to show her how to overcome adversity. ”
She shared the importance of defining her legacy before Tokyo 2020. “I think if you had asked me that question years ago it would have been records on the track or how fast I ran,” she told CNN Sport. “But now I think it’s really about making an impact on my sport.
“I really want my legacy to be that of someone who fought for women.”
Whether it’s participating in Black Lives Matter protests, fighting injuries, or defending maternal protections in contracts, she has shown that change doesn’t happen in isolation.
“I hope to continue speaking my truth and standing up for my community and standing up for others who don’t have such a strong voice.”
“It would have been amazing to be able to shine a light on some of these really, really important issues. It was a bit disappointing,” she said of the IOC decision.
She cites Sydney McLaughlin, Simone Biles and Sha’Carri Richardson among other black female athletes whose social presence she admires.
“Simone is someone I find so amazing, and she really stood out. She also has such a strong voice.
“My voice and that of athletes in general are so important and so powerful, and I think we are seeing it.”
An opportunity for unification
Felix’s legacy is not the only one tied to his career, it also stands in the shadow of some of the greatest athletes in American team history, including Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence. Griffith Joyner and Jesse Owens.
She is the only female track and field athlete to have won six Olympic gold medals and the only American track and field athlete, male or female, to win 13 gold medals at the world championships.
“Being anywhere in the line with Carl Lewis is something I never even imagined,” she says. “For me it’s just about trying to make this fifth Olympic team, with the way the year has been […] it would be such a victory. “
“Obviously as a competitor we would like to compete in front of fans. But at the same time we understand the situation […] we are ready to adapt and pivot, ”she adds. “In all of this we have seen people go through such a loss and it makes me truly grateful for all that I have.
“I think this will hopefully be a healing time and a time when we truly come together.”
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