An Gold Medalist Mother Choosing to Hold onto Hope

Mother’s day 2020 is one like no other. The new normal consists of sheltering in place, virtual celebrations with loved ones, and an uncertainty regarding when we will return to the life we once knew. In addition to the horrific death toll, the pandemic has impacted all aspects of our lives from church gatherings, graduations and cancellations of sporting events including the 2020 Summer Olympics.

One mom impacted by these cancellations is Allyson Felix. The 6-time Olympic Gold medalist sprinter has defied the odds as a world-class athlete and new mom. Eighteen months ago, Allyson became a new mom giving birth to a healthy baby girl via C-section.

At the time, Felix was under contract with her sponsor Nike who announced they would pay her 2/3 of her original contract because as Nike stated “…they needed to hold all their athletes accountable when they are marketing us to the next generation of athletes and consumers.”

Nike has since ended their policy that penalizes pregnant athletes. But not in time to win back Felix. She has since signed with the Gap and their Athleta brand whose mantra is all about empowering women athletes.

I had the opportunity to hear Felix speak on a program this weekend for women and young girls sponsored by Athleta. The context of the discussion was around the theme of connection during the Covid-19 crisis. One of the fallouts from the pandemic has been the decision to cancel this year’s summer Olympics until 2021.

Instead of focusing on the disappointment, Felix shared with the livestream attendees that she is choosing to focus on hope. She acknowledged that she was profoundly disappointed – even crushed when she learned of the decision to delay the Olympics. Why? Because her family and teammates have sacrificed so much to get her to this point. On a broader level she described what she referred to as a “global grief: a realization of the pain and suffering this pandemic has caused for so many people who have lost their jobs and even more tragic – those who have lost their lives and loved ones.

Allyson said she that in order to move on she had to first accept the disappointment by grieving the loss, and then move forward. As a result, she has modified her training from a workout facility to her home and neighborhood. And while she misses her teammates and coaches, she is extremely grateful for the extra time she is spending at home with her young daughter and family.

Like so many of us, she is adjusting to a new normal. She shared her training regimen, which was grueling including 4-5 hours a day of running and lifting weights. She talked about her belief that we all have the strength to focus on our goals for the things we are most passionate about. In the end, she has made the choice to hold onto hope. It seems to be working well for her so far. 

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