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11-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix says her daughter taught her to be fearless

"I really love how she just goes for it.”
/ Source: TODAY

With seven gold, three silver and one bronze Olympic medals, Allyson Felix is the most decorated female Olympian in track and field.

She may have 11 medals, but while speaking with following her appearance on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, Felix beams the widest when talking about her daughter.

"She just has a really fearless attitude," Felix says of her daughter Camryn, who turns 5 in November. "I feel like I’m more guarded. I’m more tentative on things and I really love how she just goes for it."

The 37-year-old says that raising Camryn, and becoming a mom, constantly teaches her to be more "open."

Though her mother is a decorated runner and her father, Kenneth Ferguson, is a sprinter and hurdler, Camryn is not necessarily destined to be a track star. Felix says she's making sure her daughter checks a range of athletic boxes before committing to running.

"Of course she grew up on the track and she loves to run already and race people. But it’s funny, I keep trying to push her in other directions," she says with a laugh. "I’m trying to get her to do every other sport first. She’s doing karate and soccer and tennis and all these things, and then I’m sure she’ll probably find her way to running."

Motherhood has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the Olympian, with Felix saying she's finally "found her voice."

"I feel much more confident now just advocating for the issues that have touched me and I know are issues for other women," Felix says. "So it feels really good to be in that space."

Felix explains that she now looks at the world from her daughter's perspective and how she'll grow up, which has pushed her to create positive change.

In June, Felix penned an essay for Time on the impact teammate Tori Bowie's death earlier this year had on her and all women of color at risk of pregnancy complications.

According to the autopsy, Bowie died at age 32 from complications related to childbirth including possible respiratory distress and eclampsia — the onset of seizures or a coma related to preeclampsia, a high blood pressure disorder that can occur during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"I developed preeclampsia during my pregnancy with my daughter Camryn, who was born in November 2018," Felix wrote. "The doctors sent me to the hospital, where I would deliver Camryn during an emergency C-section, at 32 weeks. I was unsure if I was going to make it. If I was ever going to hold my precious daughter."

"Like so many Black women, I was unaware of the risks I faced while pregnant," she added, including anecdotes from women in her family and fellow teammates, as well as similar pregnancy complications for Serena Williams and Beyoncé.

"The medical community must do its part. There are so many stories of women dying who haven’t been heard," Felix wrote. "Doctors really need to hear the pain of Black women."

Felix tells she's fighting for awareness especially among women of color.

"If I can leave people, women of color, with one thing, it’s just know that you’re at risk. Ask questions. Be prepared to advocate for yourself," she says.

Felix has brought her own activism for women into the shoe world, co-creating the brand Saysh, creating running shoes specifically designed for women.

"I hope it pushes the industry," she says. "I hope that women realize that the shoes that they’re wearing are men’s shoes and that we force (competing shoe) companies to say, 'Why aren’t they making shoes specifically for a woman’s foot as well?'"

The track champion says the company began "out of necessity," as she didn't have shoes for her fifth Olympic Games. This led to her discovery that major sports production companies were creating shoes solely for men, marketed towards women.

"We think that this is the best running shoe specifically made for women, but I love the impact more than anything," she says, specifically pointing to the brand's maternity returns policy.

Felix says she ultimately has one primary goal with Saysh: That women know their worth and value.

"This is absolutely where I’m supposed to be, creating a product where women aren’t an afterthought," Felix says. "Even bigger than that, we feel like it’s a movement in saying women deserve better in every single aspect."

Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix of Team United States competes in the 4x400m Mixed Relay Final on day one of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 on July 15, 2022 in Eugene, OR. Steph Chambers / Getty Images