Home > The Scene

U.S. track superstar Allyson Felix starts free childcare initiative

Felix says the initiative is "the one reason why I felt like I wanted to come back and run this season”

Photo by: Kevin Morris

Allyson Felix, the most-decorated female Olympian in athletics history, continues to create a legacy. The track and field star, who is known for her fierce advocacy for women and mothers, is continuing that work by launching an initiative that will provide free childcare for for athletes, coaches and other participants at the 2022 U.S. National Championships in Eugene, Ore., from June 23-26. The initiative is, she told Time magazine, the reason she’s back on the track for a final season.

Felix won 11 Olympic medals (including seven golds) throughout her career, making her one of the most decorated track and field Olympians of all time. She spoke out vehemently against the pressure her former sponsor Nike, put on her to return to racing quickly after childbirth, and after separating from them, launched her own shoe company for women, called Saysh.

In 2019, Felix testified on Capitol Hill about racial disparities in maternal mortality. She also teamed up with Athleta, who agreed to sell shoes from her brand. Athleta, along with the non-profit &Mother, are her partners in this new childcare initiative.

USA Olympic Trials Photo: Kevin Morris

Together with the Women’s Sports Foundation and Athleta’s Power of She Fund, Felix will also open up their next round of $10,000 childcare grants to qualified athletes, after awarding $200,000 in grants to elite athletes this year.

Felix gave birth to her daughter, Camryn, in 2018. She recalls bringing her to meets as a baby and being grateful that she had her mother along to help with childcare. Felix also remembers her training partner struggling to find childcare at meets years earlier, and met women who had chosen not to return to compete after having children, due to the lack of care available.

After the Tokyo Olympics, Felix says she considered retirement. She was encouraged by fellow gender-equality activist Billie Jean King to return in order to create a childcare initiative within track and field, in the hopes it would succeed and spread to other sports and potentially other industries. A daycare centre at track events could have immensely positive consequences for athletes’ careers.

Felix says she hopes the no-cost childcare model becomes the norm throughout track and field.