Allyson Felix, an Athlete and Activist
By: Olivia Zhang
“On your marks… Set… Boom!” The starter’s gun is fired, starting the race. Immediately, the runners start sprinting around their tracks, jumping over numerous hurdles on the tracks. Allyson Felix would have been through this many times in her two-decade-long career as the world’s best track-and-field athlete. However, she will not be able to experience it again after the end of the 2022 season.
Following Felix’s retirement, many sports fans will probably miss seeing her in track-and-field races. She was and is certainly one of the best, most influential athletes and activists. According to an article by BBC Sports journalist Miriam Walker-Khan, “it’s safe to say her retirement leaves a big hole in the world of athletics.”
Felix has won more Olympic medals—11 in all with 8 gold ones —than any other USA track-and-field athlete. And she has won more World Championship medals than any person ever! Also, she has, amazingly, kept her rank as a top athlete for many years, winning her first Olympic medal when she was 18 and becoming the world’s youngest running champion a year later, and continuing to win for about two decades.
Besides her achievements in sports, Felix is a strong activist who is not afraid to speak out for her opinions. After finding out she had pre-eclampsia, she decided to help speak out about the need to provide women of color with more healthcare support during their pregnancies. Later, she continued to speak out about women’s rights in general.
After her sponsor, Nike, wanted to pay Felix much less after she became a mother, she wrote about it in an Op-Ed in the New York Times. A few months later, Nike changed its system of maternity pay and did not apply any performance-related salary cuts for 18 months after pregnant athletes’ due dates.
Felix’s U.S. team-mate Noah Lyles said about her, “For one black woman to speak their mind and speak for what they believe is right, even have the courage to try, is something I feel young people should be watching for years to come.” Felix was also among Time magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People in 2021 and 2022, which shows just how, well, influential she is.
In her retirement announcement on Instagram, Felix wrote, “This season I’m running for women. I’m running for a better future for my daughter. I’m running for you. More to come on that, so stay tuned, but I’ll be sharing a series of announcements that I’m hoping will make the world better for Women.”