Ahead of Olympic marathon debut, Aliphine Tuliamuk pushes for change

US Olympic Marathon Trials winner Aliphine Tuliamuk announced that she is pregnant and due in January. She is still aiming to compete at the Olympics.
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Editor’s Note: The women’s marathon at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics begins at 5pm ET on Friday, August 6, 2021. Live stream link is here. The U.S. contingent includes Aliphine Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel, and Sally Kipyego.

By Greer Wilson

American Aliphine Tuliamuk’s Olympic preparation has been atypical, to say the least. 

In February 2020, Tuliamuk earned her spot on the U.S. team by winning U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the Games.

The pause caused Tuliamuk and her partner – Tim Gannon to evaluate their family planning timeline, and the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Zoe, on January 13, 2021.

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“In the future, [my daughter] will be able to look back and say, ‘My mom was able to run a marathon at the Olympics six-and-a-half months after having me.’ And I hope that inspires her… and other little girls and boys, too,” Tuliamuk told On Her Turf in April. 

As she returned to training, the new mom centered the majority of her sessions around her breastfeeding schedule. She competed for the first time since giving birth at Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race in July, finishing sixth in 32:41.

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But in the midst of training, Tuliamuk learned that – due to Japan’s Covid-19 restrictions, family members of athletes would be prohibited from attending the Games. 

The restriction left mothers with very young babies, including those still nursing, wondering how it would impact them.

Tuliamuk helped lead the call to action for a change in protocol, which included writing a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

Less than one month before the  Opening Ceremony, the IOC announced that nursing mothers would be allowed to bring their babies to the Olympics. 

“We are very pleased to hear that the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee has found a special solution regarding the entry to Japan for mothers who are breastfeeding and their young children,” the IOC said in a statement

On July 13, Tuliamuk celebrated the arrival of Zoe’s visa. “What a relief it feels not to have to imagine my breastfeeding daughter being miles away from me,” the 32-year-old wrote on Instagram

To stay updated on the biggest news in women’s sports at the Tokyo Olympics (and beyond), be sure to follow On Her Turf on InstagramTwitter, and bookmark the On Her Turf blog.

During the Olympics, you can also catch up on all of the major storylines in women’s sports by watching “On Her Turf @ The Olympics,” a 30-minute show that will stream for free on Peacock. Hosted by Lindsay Czarniak, MJ Acosta-Ruiz, and Lolo Jones, the show kicks off on Saturday, July 24, and will stream every day of the Games (Monday-Saturday at 7pm ET and Sundays at 6pm ET).