The most decorated female track star in America is challenging the status quo as it pertains to mom athletes receiving the financial backing they need to pursue Olympic dreams.
Allyson Felix, along with sponsor Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation, have teamed up to provide $10,000 child care grants for professional mom athletes who travel to participate in their respective sports. This year alone a total of $200,000 worth of grants will be given out.
“As a mom and an athlete, I know firsthand the obstacles that women face,” said the six-time Olympic gold medalist. “I wanted to work with Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation to take an important step in supporting female athletes as whole people — both on and off the field — by offering financial child care support to mom-athletes headed to Tokyo.”
This year marks Felix’s fifth and last Olympic Games, but also her first as a mother to daughter Camryn. “It’s really hard to balance being a mom and a professional athlete, and the reality is that there’s a certain level of financial support and security that’s necessary to be able to do it,” she told CNBC.
Training for the Olympics is far from cheap, costing athletes tens of thousands of dollars to prepare, qualify for and attend the Games. Hence, the reason athletes heavily rely on corporate sponsors.
The application, which is currently open, closes on Aug. 31. Mothers selected as recipients of the grant will be notified by October. Thus far, the following athletes have each been awarded the $10,000 grant:
- Gwendolyn Berry – Hammer Thrower,, Track & Field
- Natasha Hastings – Sprinter, Track & Field
- Kaleo Kanahele Maclay – Sitting Volleyball
- Natalie Schneider – Wheelchair Basketball
- Elena Meyers Taylor – Boblsed
- Aliphine Tuliamuk – Marathoner, Track & Field
- Lora Webster – Sitting Volleyball
- Jamie Whitmore – Paracycling
- Mariel Zagunis – Fencing
On social, Felix’s fans expressed an outpouring of support for her role in helping other female athletes.
“Now this is Black girl magic all the way around 😍😍😍”
Others sang her praises for leveling up after her association with longtime sponsor Nike ended when they proposed to decrease her pay and initially refused to amend their maternity policies for athletes following the birth of her daughter in 2018. Felix signed with the Gap sports brand Athleta in July 2019.
“She really showing NIKE up and I’m here for it 🔥🔥🔥”
“Love Allyson! She turned a negative situation with Nike into a business and is giving back to her teammates 🥰🥰”
In the weeks leading up to the Summer Games’ July 23 start, many spectators have taken issue with sports governing bodies’ decisions to disqualify several Black athletes from competing. The fact that the cost of day care is not covered by the Olympic Committee only fueled those frustrations. (The Olympics, founded as an amateur competition, does not award cash compensation or prizes to athletes. These costs are typically borne by national sports federations and corporate sponsors.)
“Sad this isn’t covered by the Olympic committee & their millions of dollars in sponsors”
“This is amazing but she shouldn’t even have to do this. You would think the Olympics would step up.”