Allyson Felix, one of the most famous track athletes in history, is Allyson Felix. After winning two Olympic medals in Tokyo, Felix retired from the Olympic competition. But off the track, she’s made her mark as an advocate for maternal health and women’s empowerment. Just weeks before the Games, she launched her own women’s lifestyle brand, Saysh, and wore the new company’s shoes during competition.
Saysh is known for her generous parental leave policies. Felix was 32 weeks premature when her daughter was born in 2018. She spoke out against the limited options available to mothers of children in America and New York. TimesIn an op-ed, she claimed her sponsor Nike wanted her to be paid 70% less when she had her child.
Among TIME’s honorees for the magazine’s inaugural Women of the Year issue, Felix spoke at an event celebrating International Women’s Day about what she hoped would have changed for maternal health by the time her child is grown.
“For me it was terrifying and isolating. It was really dark,” she told TIME’s Alice Park of giving birth. “So I hope that her experience is everything but that.”
Learn MoreAllyson Felix, Olympic Champion brings her famous focus to a new challenge
Felix became more open to talking with other women who were having difficult births and realized it was crucial to help these women feel less alone.
“I think we’re really seeing women of color, our pain is not believed,” she said at the event. “We have to advocate for our own health. There’s so much implicit bias in the medical field. We need to change that and listen to and believe women.”