Running and pregnancy. For decades, those two words signaled the end of women’s careers in track and field.
Kara Goucher and Alysia Montaño, two Olympic athletes who became mothers during their running careers, have helped changed that assumption. There are at least 12 moms representing the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, including six in track & field.
Goucher and Montaño joined “On Her Turf at the Olympics” co-hosts Lolo Jones and Lindsay Czarniak for a discussion about motherhood and athletics. (Video of the conversation can be found here.)
In 2014, Montaño famously raced the 800-meters at U.S. Track and Field Championships while eight months pregnant.
“There was so much conversation around ‘Oh if you become pregnant, are you done with the sport?’” Montaño recalled. “Within these contracts, if you became pregnant, you [would] get your pay reduced or cut completely. So, I had to secure [financial stability] and continue to tell that story so that I [could] open a pathway for future women who might also be considering motherhood.”
Since then, Montaño has used her platform to challenge misconceptions surrounding motherhood and sports.
“The biggest thing here is choice,” said Montaño. “We want to limit the barriers that have women choosing between their careers and motherhood.”
Two years after competing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Goucher gave birth to her son, Colton.
She continued to train through her pregnancy and even ran on the day she gave birth.
“When I was pregnant with my son, my contract was halted, and I received no payment,” Goucher explained. “That just can’t happen for the future generation…It’s important that these athletes are protected so that they can be mothers and amazing athletes at the same time.”