Allyson Felix has raced her way into history.
The American sprinter took home the bronze medal in the women’s 400-meter Friday at the Tokyo Olympics, securing her 10 Olympic medals, which ties her with Carl Lewis for the most Olympic medals won by an American track and field athlete. She also eclipsed Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey for most medals by a woman in Olympic track and field history.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo of Bahamas took gold while Dominican Republic's Marileidy Paulino won silver.
Felix, 35, who has competed in every Summer Games since 2004, may get to break the record for most medals for an American track and field athlete if she takes part in Saturday's women’s 4x400-meter relay and that team earns a medal.
Felix has endured a long road back to the Olympics, surviving a life-threatening pregnancy in 2018. That year, she gave birth to daughter Camryn via emergency cesarean section at 32 weeks after being diagnosed with a severe case of preeclampsia, a pregnancy condition characterized by high blood pressure.
Felix, who has also smashed Usain Bolt’s record for most gold medals in world championships history, has been open about having doubts about her ability to return to her high level of achievement.
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“So many things in my life had changed,” she told TODAY Parents in March 2020. “My body had gone through so much, and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to return to that top level, which is all I’ve ever known.”
While she's a towering figure in the Olympic community, Felix has said her role as a mother is more important.
“I am extremely proud to be an elite athlete and to have this legacy on the track, but it doesn’t stop there,” she told TODAY Parents in August 2020.
“I am more than a sprinter, more than an Olympian. I am a mom. If I can use my voice and platform to speak on the inequalities facing Black pregnant women and the Black maternal mortality rate, I absolutely will.”
Felix has also been a vocal critic of pay discrepancy for athletes after giving birth. In a 2019 New York Times op-ed, she wrote that former sponsor Nike told her it would pay her 70% less than what she earned before giving birth. Her words spurred the sneaker giant to announce a new maternity policy that guaranteed an athlete’s pay and bonuses for 18 months surrounding pregnancy.