In 2019, Allyson Felix cut ties with longtime sponsor Nike because she didn't believe the company supported her as a mother.
She said that Nike offered her a 70% pay cut during contract negotiations after childbirth. As the most decorated female runner in U.S. history (nine Olympic medals, six of them gold), she concluded that if she couldn't receive contractual protections from Nike, nobody could.
"I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth,” Felix wrote in a guest essay for the New York Times. “I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could?”
Felix announces grant to help moms in Tokyo, Beijing
Since then, she's partnered with apparel provider Athleta in an effort to empower and support mothers who are athletes. On Thursday, Felix, Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation announced a $200,000 fund intended to help moms in sports take care of childcare expenses while they're on the road. The news arrives as Felix prepares to travel to Tokyo for her fifth Olympic Games.
The Power of She Fund Child Care Grants will provide $10,000 each for nine moms competing in Tokyo and in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing who have demonstrated need for assistance in caring for their children during competition. Fellow track & field competitors Gwen Berry and Natasha Hastings and bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor are among the initial nine recipients.
The funds are intended to help with basic childcare needs such as sitters, camps and travel costs for caregivers — expenses that might otherwise be prohibitive for competing moms.
“As a mom and an athlete, I know firsthand the obstacles that women face," Felix said in a statement. "I wanted to work with Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation to take an important step in supporting female athletes as whole people — both on and off the field — by offering financial childcare support to mom-athletes headed to Tokyo.”
Felix will compete in the 400 meters in Tokyo. It will be her first Olympics since giving birth to 2-year-old daughter Camryn.
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