Allyson Felix Says This Moment in Her Career Left Her ‘Absolutely Terrified’: ‘It Was Unprecedented’

Paris 2024 will be the first Olympics since 2000 that Allyson Felix, the most-decorated track and field athlete ever, won’t be sprinting around the track for Team USA. Yes, it’s true: the owner of 20 World Championship medals and 11 Olympic medals has officially hung up her spikes after running her last race in 2022. And while we’ll miss her fearless presence on the track, Felix is maintaining her powerful presence in women’s sports — now as one of their biggest and most vocal supporters.

“There is such a moment that we’re having in women’s sports, and it’s really incredible,” Felix tells SheKnows, “But there’s also room to grow.”

For Felix, the most urgent area of growth is around visibility. She wants every sports fan to have the “ability to turn on the TV and watch women’s sports,” a seemingly basic goal that has nevertheless been a major obstacle for fans of the WNBA and NWSL, the two major women’s sports leagues in the US. “Through the NCAA Tournament and women’s basketball and the WNBA, we’re seeing what I think a lot of women have known for a long time, [which] is just how exciting women’s sports is,” Felix says. “If we get that more across other sports, I think fans would love to tune in, but I think the accessibility just needs to be a little more straightforward.”

Part of that comes from amplifying the stories of female athletes. Felix recently joined Cracker Jack’s Cracker Jill campaign to turn the spotlight on women’s sports that don’t traditionally get much attention and the incredible athletes leading the way. “Cracker Jack did this study that found that half of US teenagers can’t name a single female professional athlete,” Felix said. “Half of US teenage girls can’t envision themselves being a professional athlete. And so [it’s really about] taking this moment to continue to grow visibility,” including through a sweepstakes fans can enter to win cash or a donation to charity.

It’s just the latest example of how Felix is using her voice to push for change. She’s long been an outspoken advocate for Black maternal health and maternity protections, following her own experiences with severe preeclampsia and receiving a pregnancy-related paycut from longtime sponsor Nike. Felix’s powerful New York Times op-ed on her battle with Nike raised the alarm and resulted in the brand (and others) pledging to stop financially penalizing female athletes for getting pregnant.

Felix has also made the transition to business mogul by starting her own shoe brand, Saysh, a move she now calls one of the scarier ones of her career. “It was really unprecedented territory,” Felix recalls of launching the brand, whose shoes she ultimately wore at the 2021 Olympics. Felix was “absolutely terrified,” she says, but it was a moment of “really just betting on myself… to show people that you don’t always have to take the traditional route. It wasn’t my plan, it just authentically happened that way. But I felt like I was absolutely where I was supposed to be once I made it to the other side.”

Allyson Felix runs in Saysh shoes at the 2021 Olympics.

Athlete, advocate, business owner, mom of two (after giving birth to son Trey in April) — and now Felix is transitioning to yet another new role as a sports parent. Felix’s 5-year-old daughter, Camryn, is busy exploring all the sports. “She’s doing soccer,” Felix says. “She’s really into gymnastics. She is doing a little bit of tennis, swimming. We’re kind of dipping a toe in everything right now.”

As for Felix, she says she’s the “laid-back sports parent” — at least for now. “I just kind of let her do her thing,” she explains. “I’m just really proud of her and wanting her to explore.”

It reminds Felix of her own childhood, she says, “where I did a little bit of everything.” Back then, there weren’t quite as many female athletes — and certainly not as many Black female athletes — for the young track star to look up to, but she remembers being inspired by gymnast Dominique Dawes and basketball legend Lisa Leslie.

It’s one reason why she’s still pushing for more representation and visibility in women’s sports — because Felix, more than most, knows just how much sports can do for young kids and girls. “In my younger years, coming out of high school and towards the end of it, when I was really trying to find my group, find my people — sport really saved me,” Felix reflects. “Joining the track team gave me a sense of belonging, and really just made me feel at home. And so I love that, for young girls and for anyone really, what sport can provide them.”

Before you go, check out our favorite cold products for your kid’s next sick day:

Nous vous invitons…

Nous vous invitons à prendre rendez-vous avec un de nos psychologues, psychothérapeutes et psychopraticiens afin de faire un premier pas vers le changement que vous désirez. Si vous désirez obtenir de plus amples informations ou si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à nous téléphoner. Vous pouvez prendre un rendez-vous par téléphone ou en envoyant un email au cabinet des Psychologues de Paris 9 (à l’attention du psychologue ou psychothérapeute de votre choix).