Allyson Felix: “I want my legacy to be that of someone who fought for women,” says six-time Olympic champion



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.

“It was quite an experience, a lot of things I could never have predicted, a lot of challenges along the way,” Felix, six-time Olympic champion, told CNN Sport’s Coy Wire.

“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.”

Team work

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.”

Her journey to motherhood was not easy. In November 2018, she battled preeclampsia and underwent an emergency cesarean section at 32 weeks to deliver her daughter. Despite the initial tries, she says, “It’s my favorite song. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Felix says his proudest accomplishment was the birth of his two-year-old daughter, Camryn, in November 2018.

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.

Felix says that starting the day by writing in her gratitude journal – where she reflects on the people, times and experiences for which she is grateful – has helped her stay focused, focused and hopeful.

“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.”

The athletics star says she couldn't have achieved her Olympic dreams without her family.  From left to right: Paul Felix, Marlean Felix, Allyson Felix, Camryn Felix and Kenneth Ferguson.
She is also part of a global list of athlete ambassadors supported by Bridgestone Corporation, partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
She says their support helped her take a well-deserved trip to Arizona in April, where she had the opportunity to focus on her training and spend time with her family. “It was really cool to see everyone really stepping up and showing that support.”

Building your legacy

Becoming a parent has also helped Felix find his voice when it comes to speaking out against social injustice.

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. ”

Four-time Olympian hopes her legacy will be that of an athlete

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.”

This summer, Félix will have to find alternative ways to channel his activism, the ban preventing athletes from demonstrating or demonstrating at Tokyo 2020 having been confirmed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“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.

Felix hopes to use his platform to continue speaking out against social injustice.

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.

By competing in her fifth Olympics this year and adding one more medal to her set of nine, she could equal Lewis’ record – or add two more to beat it.

“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. “

Another medal in Tokyo would improve Felix's level with Carl Lewis' record as the most decorated US Olympic track and field athlete of all time, male or female - two more medals would break him.
The absence of international spectators at Tokyo 2020 means Felix is ​​unlikely to have his family in the stands. With reduced stadium capacities and the elimination of team welcoming ceremonies at the Olympic Village, the Games will be different this year.

“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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