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Allyson Felix qualifies for her 13th world championships eight months after giving birth

New moms were the focus in more than one event at USA's, thanks to Felix shining a spotlight on sponsors' policies

Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix, the most decorated track runner in world championship history with 16 career medals, made a very respectable comeback yesterday at the USATF Outdoor Championships yesterday, finishing sixth in the 400m final, qualifying her for the 4x400m relay pool for the 2019 world championships at Doha. It will be her 13th world championships.

Felix ran 51.94s in her first race back since having her baby last November. She made headlines a few months ago when she openly criticized her sponsor, Nike, for not supporting women athletes who choose to start a family, and followed that up with testifying before the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on the maternal mortality crisis. Though she had excellent healthcare and was in top physical condition, Felix suffered serious complications during her pregnancy and underwent an emergency C-section at 32 weeks. She spent the next few months with her baby in the NICU before going public with her story in December 2018. Felix is still without a contract, and raced unattached this weekend.

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Felix wasn’t the only mom commanding attention on the track this weekend. Nia Ali, who had her second baby last year, took second place in the women’s 100m hurdles, securing herself a berth on the American world championship team with a season’s best 12.55s. (The baby’s father is Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, who finished second in the 100m at the Canadian nationals this weekend.)

In the women’s 1,500m, defending champion Shelby Houlihan surged ahead of the much-decorated Jenny Simpson for the win, in 4:03.18 to Simpson’s 4:03.41. Nikki Hiltz, who has spoken openly about being a member of the LGBTQ community, finished third in 4:03.55, making her first US world team.

Tonight sees the women’s 3,000m steeplechase final, with former American record-holder and 2017 champion Emma Coburn going up against current record-holder Courtney Frerichs, NCAA champion Allie Ostrander and indoor mile champion Colleen Quigley. We’ll also be watching the men’s 5,000m, with Paul Chelimo.