Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix
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Allyson Felix, her life at risk before C-section, urges lawmakers to hear her story

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Allyson Felix shared the story of the two most terrifying days of her life, revealing she had a severe case of preeclampsia that led to her emergency C-section childbirth at 32 weeks on Nov. 28.

Felix testified Thursday at the House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee hearing on overcoming racial disparities and social determinants in the maternal mortality crisis.

Her full testimony in text is here and via video is here.

“My doctors told me that not only was my baby at risk, but I was at risk, too,” said Felix, the most decorated female Olympic track and field athlete with nine medals and six golds. “All I cared about in that moment was my daughter surviving and didn’t fully understand my life was threatened, too. Mothers don’t die from childbirth, right? Not in 2019, not professional athletes, not at one of the best hospitals in the country, and certainly not to women who have a birthing plan and a birthing suite lined up. I thought maternal health was solely about fitness, resources and care. If that was true, then why was this happening to me? I was doing everything right. My husband arrived and our doctor told us I would need to be on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy, which meant staying in the hospital so I could be closely monitored, but not to worry because I was in good hands. The thought of staying in the bed for the next eight weeks was awful, but it would be OK because my baby would be okay. Just as we started settling into our new home, our doctor rushed back into the room and said things were actually getting worse. I had a severe case of preeclampsia, and if the doctors didn’t act fast, this could prove fatal. I called my family and asked them to fly in. I asked my doctor if he could wait until my family was here, he said that he would try, but no promises. Ten hours later, I was being taken in for an emergency C-section at 32 weeks. I kissed my husband goodbye not knowing what would happen next.”

Felix’s daughter, Camryn, was born — 3 pounds, 7 ounces — and spent her first month in the NICU. Camryn is healthy, growing and expected to accompany her mom to her first track meets later this season.

“I learned that my story was not so uncommon, there were others like me — just like me,” Felix said. “They faced death like me too, and as I started to talk to more of those women and hear about their experiences, I learned that black women are nearly four times more likely to die from childbirth than white mothers are in the United States and that we suffer severe complications twice as often.”

She urged the committee to provide women of color more support during their pregnancies, noting “racial bias within our healthcare system that is troubling and will be difficult to tackle.”

“Racial bias is difficult, because it’s not as easy to spot as outright racism, but examples can be just as devastating,” Felix said. “To me there is no more important issue than what we’re talking about today.”

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MORE: Allyson Felix: I stand with Caster Semenya

Allyson Felix eyes USATF Outdoor Champs in return from childbirth

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NEW YORK — Allyson Felix has returned to full training and plans to compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships in July in Des Moines, Iowa, she said Monday, following her emergency C-section childbirth on Nov. 28.

“It’s going, and, right now, I’m fully committed,” she said. “Nationals is going to be my focus. I’ll probably compete a little bit before then, but I’m not exactly sure.”

Felix, the most decorated female track and field athlete with nine Olympic medals, plans to race the 400m at nationals.

She’s the 2012 Olympic 200m champion but has since shifted to the full lap. Felix, the reigning Olympic silver medalist and world bronze medalist at 400m, didn’t contest a 200m in her abbreviated 2018 season for the first time in her nearly two-decade career.

Felix is one Olympic medal 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 the 400m with 20-somethings.

Felix believes this Olympic qualifying quest will be more difficult than her last one, when she was .01 shy of making the team in both the 200m and 400m less than three months after partially tearing two ligaments in her right ankle.

“I could dedicate every single second of 2016 to being back,” said Felix, whose 400m personal best from 2015 is still two tenths faster than any other active U.S. woman. “I have so much more on my plate now.”

Daughter Camryn will accompany Felix to Des Moines and most meets overall. At nationals, the top three in the 400m qualify for the world championships (aside from the already qualified Phyllis Francis, defending world champ) and likely the top six for the 4x400m relay.

The U.S. had six of the nine fastest women in the world last year, with the four fastest born at least nine years after Felix. Felix ranked 44th overall, but those times were two months into her pregnancy.

“This year will be good to get momentum going, to get back and see,” she said. “Then next year I’ll be able to have a better idea.”

What’s clear is that Tokyo would be her last Olympics, though she’s not ruling out trying for the 2021 World Championships in Eugene, Ore.

“2016, with the injury and everything, it wasn’t on my terms,” Felix said. “So I would love to leave on my terms and to have it in control.”

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MORE: Allyson Felix: I stand with Caster Semenya

Allyson Felix: I stand with Caster Semenya

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Allyson Felix, the most decorated woman in Olympic track and field history, spoke out in support of Caster Semenya on Wednesday.

Felix reacted to the IAAF rule change capping testosterone levels for athletes in women’s events between the 400m and mile, conversing with Julie Foudy on the Olympic soccer champion’s podcast, Laughter Permitted.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion on a three-year win streak, has said she is being specifically targeted by the rule change.

The South African challenged it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but lost a decision last week, nearly a decade since word leaked that track officials mandated she undergo gender-verification testing after she won the world 800m title by 2.45 seconds at age 18.

“I’ve been disappointed from the beginning, of just how everything has been handled,” Felix said of her fellow Nike-sponsored runner. “I just think that it’s not OK. I stand with Caster. She’s a friend of mine. I just think that no one should have to go through what she’s had to go through. Not just in this moment. From the beginning of when she started competing. So I think it’s a very, very complex issue. … But I just think that it has been mishandled from the start.”

Barring another appeal, and one that is successful, it’s unknown if or when Semenya will be able to compete in her best races again. She and Felix have never raced against each other, though Semenya started becoming competitive in Felix’s best event, the 400m, in recent years.

Felix is glad that she’s not making the decision in a case that has been fiercely debated for years and especially since the CAS ruling.

“There has to be something, or there should have already been something in place when you’re dealing with athletes with differences or intersex athletes. I don’t know. It’s challenging,” she said. “We’re talking about human beings. This is a person. To have all of this play out the way that it has, it makes me cringe to think of her dealing with this. This has been for 10 years now. I just feel like there is a better way.”

Felix also reiterated Wednesday that she’s going for what would be her fifth Olympics in 2020 — “this last one and enjoy the whole ride.” Her daughter, Camryn, is now five months old after being born eight weeks premature and spending her first month in the NICU.

“She’s great. She’s growing. She’s catching up. She’s so much fun,” Felix said.

The nine-time Olympic medalist is still figuring out the mother-athlete balance as she returns to training.

“I’m looking at the workouts and I’m thinking man, I can’t believe there was a time that literally I had to just wake up, train, take a nap, take care of my body and do it all again,” Felix said. “Now, I’m like, how can I get four hours of sleep?”

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MORE: ‘Hell No’: Caster Semenya refuses to take medication for rule change