Allyson Felix will try to make a fifth Olympic team in 2020, but it would be her first as a mom.
Felix, a nine-time Olympic sprint medalist, wrote that she had daughter Camryn on Nov. 28 via emergency C-section 32 weeks into her pregnancy, according to ESPN.com. The news was confirmed Thursday morning.
“I didn’t care if I ever ran track again. I was just praying that she would be OK,” Felix wrote, according to the report. “The thing I remember most about the November 28 surgery is that I barely got to see her face or hear her cry.”
Felix, 33, wrote that Camryn, born at 3 pounds, 7 ounces, will be in the NICU “for a while, but she’s OK and I’m so, so grateful.”
Felix said the surgery was scheduled because the baby’s heart rate was decelerating and her own blood pressure was too high.
“I’ve always wanted to be a mother,” she wrote. “This shouldn’t be a secret. I want to share this journey with everyone who has ever known me or cheered for me.”
Felix, who is married to former sprinter Kenneth Ferguson, said she learned she was pregnant in May during a season where she scantly competed. Ardent track and field followers first learned of the typically private Felix’s pregnancy and marriage on Thursday.
“Having a child felt like I’d be risking my career and disappointing everyone who expected me to always put running first,” she wrote. “This is a risk. It could affect how I run in 2019 and 2020. I know it’s going to be tough in a way that I haven’t experienced before. But I’m up for it.
“If I come back and I’m just not the same, if I can’t make a fifth Olympic team, I’m gonna know that I fought, that I was determined, and that I gave it my absolute all. And if it doesn’t end up the way I imagined in my head, it’ll be OK. I just have to go for it, because that’s just simply who we are now.”
Felix is already the most decorated female U.S. Olympic track and field athlete with nine medals. She’s one shy of Carl Lewis‘ record for any U.S. track and field athlete and three shy of the most medals for a U.S. woman in any sport. She could tie the record for U.S. Olympic track and field appearances in Tokyo. But Felix will be 34 in 2020, and the U.S. is deep in her best event, the 400m, with 20-somethings.
Felix also owns 16 world outdoor championships medals, most for any track and field athlete in history.
Back in June, she did not enter the USATF Outdoor Championships for the first time since 2002, when she was 16 years old. With no world outdoor championships or Olympics this year, it wasn’t seen as major news.
“In the 19 years that I’ve been running track, I’ve never taken a break,” Felix said in May. “Never had a year where I took it easy. … Now that this is kind of a year without a championship, I’ve had to force myself to have a different approach because my goal is 2020. … To be able to be at my best when it counts, I think that means not having as intense of a year as I usually do. Being a competitor and an athlete, that’s something that I struggle with. … This year, that’s what I’m really trying to force myself to do is have quality races, quality over quantity. … So, if you guys don’t see me at as many of the races as I usually run, don’t worry, I’m fine, I’m just challenging myself to be smarter.”
Star sprinters to compete at the Olympics as moms include the Netherlands’ Fanny Blankers-Koen, who earned four golds at the 1948 London Games while also holding two world records in events that she didn’t enter at those Games.
Wilma Rudolph had daughter Yolanda two years before sweeping the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Evelyn Ashford earned 4x100m golds in 1988 and 1992 after becoming a mom.
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