In November 2007, Paula Radcliffe won the New York Marathon, a mere nine months after giving birth to her first child. In 2011, Kara Goucher finished fifth at the Boston Marathon and set a new PB only 7 months after delivering her baby. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the women’s 100m at the World Championships in 2019, with her two-year-old son in the audience. While there have been many incredible stories of female athletes who have returned to sport after childbirth with great success, the reality is that many struggle during those first weeks, months and years, and are sometimes forced to choose between their athletic careers and their families. The U.S.A. Track and Field (USATF) Foundation has now committed to providing support for these women through a new grant program, with U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials winner Aliphine Tuliamuk as the first recipient of financial assistance.
The USATF Maternity Grant Fund will provide assistance to elite female Track and Field athletes and runners during their pregnancy and postpartum when they are recovering. The USATF Foundation website says “This fund will allow elite females athletes confidence that there is financial assistance available if needed.” The fund was started with a donation from USATF Foundation Director Lisa Larson, who says that although pregnancy and childbirth can be unpredictable, it is clear that female athletes can return to sport better than ever when given the proper support.
Tuliamuk, the first recipient of the grant, won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the Olympics were postponed, she and her partner took this extra time to start growing their family, and Tuliamuk gave birth to the couple’s first baby girl last month. She is now preparing to compete in the marathon at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, which will take place only 6.5 months after her daughter was born. Tuliamuk is very thankful to be the first recipient of this new fund, and she says it will help cover the couple’s babysitting needs so she can rest and return to training as quickly as possible.
“I am so grateful that the USATF Foundation chose me as their first recipient of the maternity grant,” she tells usatffoundation.org, “being a new mom is challenging enough, let alone being a new mom who’s representing her country in the summer Olympics 6.5 months postpartum.”