Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix

1985–

Allyson Felix is both the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history and the most decorated American track and field athlete in the World Athletics Championships history, earning 11 total medals from five consecutive Olympic Games between 2008 and 2022.  

In 2018, a pregnant Felix developed severe pre-eclampsia, a condition marked by dangerously high blood pressure along with a potentially traumatic childbirth. Because her condition was so serious, she had an emergency C-section and her daughter was delivered two months premature. Within six weeks, Felix had returned to training. However, Nike, Felix’s sponsor, refused to continue her contract as is, only offering 70% because they thought she would perform poorly following childbirth.  She made history 10 months after her C-section when she received her next medal, setting a record for winning the most world championship gold medals. 

In an article she wrote about Nike’s discrimination against female athletes for the NY Times, she said, “you can’t change anything with silence.” This article helped create a public outcry over Nike’s refusal to guarantee salary protections for its pregnant athletes. After a congressional inquiry, the sportswear brand expanded its maternity policy in 2019. Nike now guarantees a pregnant athlete’s pay will not be cut over the period 8 months before delivery and 10 months after. Later that same year, Felix won her 12th world championship! And the following year she won her 13th World Championship gold medal, making her the record holder of the most gold medals of any athlete in World Athletics Championships history.

In this portrait she poses with her cesarean scar and some of her many medals. Obviously Nike was wrong in their initial feeling that childbirth would make Felix a subpar athlete!