Allyson Felix‘s first gold medal as a mom came with this added significance, too — she broke her tie with Usain Bolt for the most gold medals in world championships history with 12.
“So special, to have my daughter here watching means the world to me,” Felix told Lewis Johnson on NBCSN. “It’s been a crazy year for me.”
Felix, 33 and the most decorated female track and field athlete at the Olympics with nine medals among four Games, was part of the winning U.S. quartet in the first world championships mixed-gender 4x400m relay, an event that makes its Olympic debut next year. She split 50.4 seconds.
Wil London III, Felix, Courtney Okolo and Michael Cherry combined to clock a world record 3:09.34 in the young event, prevailing by 2.44 seconds over Jamaica. Bahrain took bronze. Felix already had the record for world championships medals; she’s now up to 17 overall. As for beating Bolt?
“This is a different event, so I don’t really look at it in that way,” Felix said.
She had daughter Camryn on Nov. 28 via emergency C-section at 32 weeks. Felix had severe preeclampsia and, six weeks postpartum, began power walking (with difficulty). Camryn, born at 3 pounds, 7 ounces, spent her first 29 days in the NICU.
“This was my entire world. staying in the NICU all day & night watching my baby girl fight,” was posted on Felix’s social media in July. “I can still hear the beeping and alarms of the machines. the uncertainty. The fear. There were a lot of days i wasn’t sure this was going to be possible. I worked harder than i even knew i could. there were tears, frustration and doubt. At times it felt like everything was against me.”
Felix also saw her Nike contract expire after seven years, ending in December 2017 without being renewed, at least in part over pay protection for pregnancy.
Felix announced after placing sixth in the 400m at the USATF Outdoor Championships in July (her first meet as a mom) that she signed a new apparel deal with Athleta. The contract and compensation is consistent whether Felix is or is not competing, including full protection during maternity, according to the company.
Felix made the world team solely in the relay pool. It’s her ninth world team, breaking her tie with Amy Acuff for the most for an American, according to the OlyMADMen. Next year, Felix goes for her fifth Olympics and to break Michael Johnson‘s record as the oldest Olympic 400m medalist.
Felix repeated in interviews Sunday night that this abbreviated season was “a stepping stone.”
“Making it through this year with so much going on, I think it’s going to make next year feel a lot easier,” she said.
Felix’s world titles
3 — 200m
1 — 400m
3 — 4x100m
4 — 4x400m
1 — Mixed 4x400m
Bolt’s world titles
3 — 100m
4 — 200m
4 — 4x100m