Allyson Felix’s Retirement Plan Has Already Started

Allyson Felix is ​​not yet finished.

When she left the race for the Tokyo Games in 2021, she had just won her 11th medal, surpassing Carl Lewis and becoming the most decorated American athlete in Olympic history.

Felix, 36, had already confirmed everything before. That his words can lead to greater protection for pregnant athletes. That she could return to the Olympics after giving birth to her daughter, Camryn, for emergency surgery in 32 weeks. That she could win those medals wearing her own brand shoes.

After Tokyo, it would no doubt make sense to embed his thorns, to spend the next few decades focusing on his success.

But, this is Allyson Felix.

There was something left, more than celebrating, a few rounds over a 400-meter run. He announced his intention in April on social media. “I want to say goodbye and thank you for the game and the people who helped me create it in the only way I know – for the last run,” he wrote.

This weekend, he will begin the festivities with a vengeance outside the United States, followed by, if all goes as planned, with the World Championships, which will be held in July in Oregon, for the first time in the US last season. appropriate, his coach, Bob Kersee, said.

On Wednesday morning, Felix announced his biggest promise from the song. She is now the owner and board member of Voice in Sport, a advocacy and consulting company founded by Stef Strack that brings together young female athletes and mentors playing professional sports and experts in mental health, nutrition and sports science.

“We’ve both tried to make changes happen in current systems, some with success and some with failure,” Strack, a former Nike executive, said. “And we combined this idea that it’s time to create the future that we want to see for our daughters.”

In an interview with The New York Times before his final race for the national and world championships, Felix discussed how he decided to withdraw from the competition, how he discovered the power of his platform and what kind of legacy he hopes to leave.

These interviews have been shortened and edited for clarity.

How did you decide to make one more season after winning two more Olympic medals at the Tokyo Games? What was the decision-making process?

It really was harder than I thought. I knew it was my last Olympics, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it another season. Many people were like, “Oh, it would be wonderful to end up at home, on the home ground in Oregon.” And that seemed pretty cool, but I was exhausted from a year ago and didn’t know if I had it in me. I had never had that feeling before. I wasn’t sure if I had a war just inside me.

But I was talking to my coach, and he was like, “I think you should do it as a last resort and have fun.”

Can you have fun with it? Can you slow down the competition as you look down the line?

I have never slowed down before. I have always been focused on the goal, no matter what the goal is for the year. And I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to be grateful and just enjoy it – to enjoy traveling and enjoying the competition for what it is and not being happy to be associated with whether I win, or lose. So that part is a very different experience for me. It has been very difficult. I just try to remind myself not to lose the focus of having fun this time because this is it.

Outside of the song, you have been a fierce advocate of female athletes and gender equality. But you said it was a journey to get there, feel good using your voice and your platform. How did you start talking?

I never got to a place where I felt good about it. I was really scared. I had this moment when I was sitting in my daughter’s nursery, we had just gotten home from NICU, and I was going back and forth about talking and doing op-ed.

I think having a daughter, after going through a crazy birth event, sitting there looking at her, it was this way where it was just like, I feel like I have to do this. No matter what the outcome, I will move forward because I strongly believe it is the right thing to do.

Yours Comments section of the New York Times, which detailed the lack of parental protection for new parents, was published in May 2019. Nike changed its policies in August, and many athletic companies have developed new parenting policies. Did you expect this kind of dramatic change and praise from your fellow athletes?

I was doing what I was supposed to do and what I needed to do. I’ve had a few minutes since, where I’ll be in the race and later the person I’m competing with comes up to me and says thank you and tells a story or something. And that just hurts because I’m like, wow, I never thought things would change so quickly. I never thought I would have those times, although I expected it to be for the women to come, I never thought they would be telling me anything about it.

Over the years, you have signed partnerships and agreements with a few companies, and set up your own, Saysh. How do you decide who you are working with now?

After everything with Nike, I just felt like I could only do things that were so meaningful. I wanted to be very thoughtful about everything. At the moment, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not something I intend to do. It certainly took me a long time and I learned a lot to get to this place, but that’s where I am right now.

I understand the power of my platform and the power of my voice, and I want to use it to benefit from it and to be truly responsible for what I say.

One of your new major partners – and promises of time – was announced this morning, with your ownership of Sounds in Color. How did you decide to sign up for the organization in such a big way?

I want our young girls to be healthy and have the resources to focus on their mental health and nutrition in a healthy way. I think about me growing up, as if I had access to something like this, I would be very excited. I think my mom would be very happy because I think most parents want to put their child on the right track and it can be confusing and difficult. And I think this will change things.

Now more than ever, we see that young people want to have an impact and want to use their voices and want to take action. And now I imagine myself having more time to be involved as a consultant and as a board member.

Tell us a little about the advice that helped you throughout your life.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee has been my mentor for most of my career, and it has greatly affected my life. She is the wife of my coach, and I think she began to counsel me when I was about 19 years old. Obviously I relied on him from an athletic point of view, but to get to build a relationship with him and see that he cared for me – and not just the way I was playing on the song but as a person – that just sounded and stayed with him. me.

He has seen me change, from a shy girl to seeing me in front of Congress. At every step of the way, I can count on Jackie. I can pick up the phone, and I can call him. I remember when I was going through a whole pregnancy with Nike and all that, I used to call her many times and be like, “I don’t know what’s going on,” and she always, was always there for me.

He taught me how to do it for someone else.

The word “inheritance” is strongly influenced by a person like you when it comes out of a song. What do you want your inheritance to be?

I always thought that I would be like, “Oh, these records or this or that Olympics,” and a few years ago that changed that completely. I hope it is one of those trying to change things, after giving up things better than I did, and just being kind to people.

I think that’s the main thing, trying to speak for those whose voice is not loud. That is what I am most proud of, that is what matters most, and at the end of the day it is the most important thing.

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