Women's Sports: Supermum Allyson Felix leads group of inspiring mothers at Doha 2019

This is Allyson Felix’s world, we’re just living in it.

The American superstar has long been considered one of track and field’s greatest ever athletes, but her journey over the last 12 months has launched her into a new stratosphere of inspiration.

Taking time away from the sport for the birth of her daughter Camryn, Felix has returned to the World Championships less than a year later and become the competition’s most decorated athlete.

A gold medal in the 4x400m mixed relay elevated her to 12 World ribbons, usurping Usain Bolt’s previous record, and all after a pregnancy that required an emergency C-section.

And Felix isn’t alone in her maternal brilliance. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Liu Hong have both won gold medals in Doha, while Nia Ali could follow suit, after giving birth in the last two years.

Supermums in Doha

It’s an inspiring talking point that simply must be celebrated and we quizzed GiveMeSport’s resident expert, mother and former athlete Michelle Griffith-Robinson during her time in Qatar.

Then, we track down Felix herself after the heats of the 4x400m relay and also garnered a competitor’s perspective from Laviai Nielsen, who will go toe-to-toe with the American tonight.

Is Allyson Felix the greatest athletics has ever seen?

Michelle Griffith-Robinson: You can only go off what you’ve got and the fact she has these 12 gold medals that nobody else has ever replicated, you’ve got to say yes. But when you mention Allyson Felix, being a mother of three myself, what straight away comes to mind is that this young girl had a baby less than a year ago and is back on the world stage again. 

She’s changing things in terms of mothering contracts with Nike and women falling pregnant being chastised almost. She’s bigger than just a 400-metre runner. She’s bigger than that. She’s made so many changes and women are looking up to her saying: ‘thank goodness we’ve got people like Allyson Felix and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce that keep coming back time after time.’ They’re not just representing women, but mothers and women in the workplace.

How important of an example are these Supermums to society in general?

Michelle Griffith-Robinson: As mothers, we maybe sometimes feel this imposter syndrome: can we come back and will we regain the position we had before? That’s not necessarily just in track and field, but in the workplace generally. You go on maternity leave, you’re out of action for six months, maybe 12 months, and then coming back to try and find that confidence again.

These girls have showed you that you can come back and train, then come back and be the best of the best. If you can do it in sport, where it takes a lot of tenacity and resilience, then you can come back in the workplace. I think it transcends through life itself as well.

What does Felix herself think?

Allyson Felix: I try to do everything! The thing that is coolest for me is to see so many women relate with me. I think we’ve all been through a hard situation before and to to just be a representation of that, that’s bigger than sport to me. That’s important for me and the coolest thing about being here. 

What do Felix’s competitors make of her?

Great Britain’s Laviai Nielsen: She’s the GOAT, 100%. She’s such an amazing woman. To come back from having a baby 10 months ago to get a medal here and she’ll get another medal tomorrow, it’s just so inspirational. When you see someone doing that, you can see yourself in them. I think she’s an amazing role model for women everywhere. It’s so amazing to be in her company in the 4x400m relay.

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