TOKYO – This one’s for moms.
Less than three years after the birth of her daughter Camryn, Allyson Felix won bronze in the women’s 400 meters at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday night, becoming the second American track and field athlete to win 10 Olympic medals. She has six gold, three silver and now a bronze medal which she described as “very different” and “very special”.
“It’s hard to describe because I feel like everyone else, I was really so focused on performance. And this one is so much bigger than that,” said Felix. “That’s all I can sort of explain – I was out there running, but felt like I was a representation of a lot more than trying to get down the track.”
Felix, 35, is now the most decorated Olympian in athletics history, and she joins Carl Lewis as the only two Americans to win double-digit medals on the track. Eleven American athletes in all sports, summer and winter, have already reached the milestone – and eight of them are swimmers, where competitors can more easily compete in multiple events.
The nature with which Felix won the No.10 medal only makes the accomplishment more impressive, speeding up the stretch to cross the finish line in 49.46 seconds. It was his fastest 400 since the world championships in 2015.
Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas won the gold in 48.36, giving the Caribbean nation a sweep of the men’s and women’s 400m. And Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic won the silver medal in 49.20.
Felix collapsed on the track after the race, lying on her back both exhilarated and exhausted. She said she later spoke with Camryn on FaceTime.
“I’m surprised she’s awake. She should have slept,” Felix said with a smile. “But we’ll deal with that later.”
Felix won three medals at the Rio 2016 Games, including silver at the 400, before marrying Kenneth Ferguson in 2018. Their daughter Camryn was born in November of the same year by emergency Caesarean section, after doctors sent her away. diagnosed with preeclampsia – a potentially fatal condition for mother and daughter.
Felix returned to the track a year later and has repeatedly silenced questions about her fitness as to whether she could return to an elite level after childbirth. She finished second at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June and ran her first 400 in under 50 seconds in the semifinals here in Tokyo – all while wearing a pointe shoe made by Saysh, a sportswear company she co-founded with his brother and agent, We s.
Felix said the Tokyo Olympics would be Camryn’s longest absence since she was born, but she said in June that her daughter was her motivation and “gave me whole new motivation.”
“Obviously, she can’t understand everything that’s happened over the past two years,” Felix said. “But I can’t wait to tell her the stories and how she was my driving force.”
After winning bronze on Friday, Felix said she always believed she would win another medal. But she also acknowledged that apart from her trainer Bobby Kersee and his family, few others have likely done so.
“No one thought I was going to be here,” she said. “No one thought I was going to be in the final, probably other than Bobby and my family.
“I’m a fighter. The last two years that’s what I’ve been doing. I knew I just needed a chance.”