Unsure if she’ll compete again, Allyson Felix has big plans for the future

Allyson Felix at the 2021 Met Gala. The 11-time Olympic medalist hasn't yet decided on retirement from track & field.
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Author’s note: On Wednesday night, Allyson Felix was named Individual Sportswoman of the Year by the Women’s Sports Foundation. 

Originally published: October 13, 2021

Since Allyson Felix returned home from the Tokyo Olympics – where she became the most decorated U.S. athlete in Olympic track & field history – the 11-time Olympic medalist has kept herself busy.

Between speaking appearances, launching shoe company Saysh (pronounced as one syllable with a long “a” sound), and spending time with her family and daughter Cammy, “I feel like I haven’t quite caught my breath yet,” Felix said in a zoom interview ahead of the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute on Wednesday night.

Felix is also weighing an important decision: whether she wants to retire or continue competing for another year.

While the 35-year-old sprinter has said the Tokyo Games marked her last Olympic appearance, the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, remain a possibility. It will mark the first time the United States hosts track & field’s world championships, the most important competition in the sport away from the Olympics.

While Felix says she is still “making those final decisions,” she notes that if she does want to compete in 2022, she would need to start ramping up her training soon.

“It still sounds very interesting to me,” she said. “[I’m] kind of just seeing if it’s going to be the move.”

She says her longtime coach, Bobby Kersee, has been less secretive about his goals for her.

“He’s been supportive of me doing another year, for sure,” Felix said. “He always is excited for new goals and new things to accomplish.”

While Felix’s near-term plans remain in flux, she is much more open about her long-term goals: making sure women feel empowered, supported, and able to make family planning decisions without risking their athletic careers.

“I always felt like I had to accomplish so much before I could even have the thought,” Felix said of her decision to become a mom.

“I don’t want other women to have that thought. If they want to wait, I think that’s amazing. But if they choose to have a child in the prime of their career, I think they should be able to be supported through that.”

In the lead up to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Felix partnered with her sponsor Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation to create the “Power of She” fund to help female athletes pay for childcare costs. Recipients in 2021 included Tokyo Olympian Aliphine Tuliamuk and Paralympian Lora Webster.

Webster competed at the Tokyo Paralympics – her fifth Games – while 20 weeks pregnant with her fourth child, while Tuliamuk made her Olympic debut seven months after giving birth to her daughter Zoe.

Felix said seeing Tuliamuk compete at the Olympics “definitely felt like progress.”

“The idea that women are making that decision – in the prime of their career – to have children, that’s huge,” she said.

Allyson Felix and her daughter Cammy celebrate on the track at U.S. Olympic Trials in June 2021
Eugene, Oregon – Allyson Felix and her daughter Cammy celebrate on the track at U.S. Olympic Trials in June 2021. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Felix knows that many of the challenges female athletes face aren’t due to malicious intent, but instead are the result of a system that wasn’t built with women in mind.

She hopes that Saysh – which she and her brother and business partner Wes co-founded in June – will lead the industry in helping support women.

“Some things aren’t even that hard [to fix], but because people at the table haven’t necessarily been thinking in that way, things aren’t always done,” Felix said. “If we’re going to encourage more women to make decisions – based on what they actually desire… then we need to support them and fix things.”

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