NEW YORK (Reuters) – Allyson Felix isn’t done just yet.
Just two weeks after she picked up gold in the 4X400m relay in Tokyo, her second of two medals from the 2020 Games to become the most decorated woman in track and field history, the 35-year-old American is returning to the track.
But after the pressure of competing in her fifth and final Games – and all of the expectations that came with them – Felix told Reuters the quick pivot to compete in Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic is hardly a burden.
“For me it’s a lot of fun,” said Felix, who will race in her favourite event – the 200 metres – at Eugene, Orgeon’s Hayward Field, where she made a tearful farewell appearance at her final U.S. team trials earlier this summer.
“I really just want to be able to compete again and see the fans and do that. I think that the weight of trials and what that all means, I think that was just a bit heavier.”
For the 11-time Olympic medallist and 13-time World Champion, a bit of fun is long overdue.
After giving birth to her daughter, Camryn, via an emergency C-section in 2018, she became an advocate for working mothers, penning an opinion piece in the New York Times in which she said she faced pay cuts from sponsors including Nike after having her child.
“Becoming a mother inspired me in a whole new way, but also, you know, when I spoke out and hearing from women all across industries (who had) just a shared experience,” said Felix. “Knowing your story is not done, that you still have so much more to offer. I felt like I carried that with me to Tokyo.”
In Tokyo, she was wearing shoes from her own “Saysh” line, launched this year.
“To build Saysh during a pandemic was really challenging,” said Felix. “It was my proudest moment at the Olympics to be able to compete in my own shoes.”
The challenges of the pandemic extended onto the track as well.
Like other athletes, Felix had a gruelling, year-long wait for Tokyo, training under COVID-19 restrictions and undergoing testing detailed in the mini-documentary series “BD On Location.”
She was tested for COVID-19 so many times that she lost count.
“My daughter, she’s taken a number of tests as well, just with things that she’s done and it’s just so interesting how we adapt,” said Felix. “I saw her the other day, she was giving her doll a COVID test.”
As for her post-competition life, she is ready to tackle a new challenge: skiing lessons so she can finally join the rest of her family on their annual holiday trip to Vail.
“I’m always at the bottom of the hill like waiting for everybody to come back,” said Felix. “There’s just been so many sacrifices.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis)