Allyson Felix, the most decorated U.S. track and field athlete in Olympic history, is running one final season in 2022 before retiring.
Felix announced the news on social media on Wednesday and said her “one last run” is about the joy rather than the time on the clock. She had previously said she would not pursue a sixth Olympics in 2024 in Paris.
Felix, 36, wrote:
As a little girl they called chicken legs, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I’d have a career like this. I have so much gratitude for this sport that has changed my life. I have given everything I have to running and for the first time I’m not sure if I have anything left to give. I want to say goodbye and thank you to the sport and people who have helped shape me the only way I know how—with one last run. This season isn’t about the time on the clock, it’s simply about joy. If you see me on the track this year I hope to share a moment, a memory and my appreciation with you.
This season I’m running for women. I’m running for a better future for my daughter. I’m running for you. More to come on that, so stay tuned, but I’ll be sharing a series of announcements that I’m hoping will make the world better for women.
Here’s to my final season.
Felix won her 11th Olympic medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last summer where she won bronze in the 400m and gold in the 4x400m. She broke Carl Lewis’ record of 10 Olympic medals for the U.S. Her career covers three decades and a U.S. record nine world championship appearances. At the last event in 2019, she broke a tie with Usain Bolt for most world titles with 12.
World championships in U.S. for first time
She shut the door on an Olympic return and said she wasn’t sure if she would race in 2022. But the world track & field championships will be held on U.S. soil for the first time this summer, likely factoring into her decision.
The championships are scheduled for July 15-24 in Eugene, Oregon. They are the largest, most prominent track and field event outside of the Olympic games.
She is expected to open her final season no later than the Penn Relays later this month, per NBC Sports’ Nick Zaccardi. To compete at the worlds she’ll need to compete first at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in June.
Felix and female empowerment
Felix has become a strong advocate for female empowerment and motherhood in sports.
In 2018, she gave birth to her daughter, Cammy, via emergency C-section at 32 weeks because of a severe case of preeclampsia. Cammy spent the first month of her life in the NICU. Felix raised awareness about racial disparities in childbirth and testified before Congress on the issue and her own experience.
It also prompted a larger conversation about better maternity protections in athlete contracts. Felix didn’t announce her pregnancy or the birth of her daughter until a month afterward and explained that decision in an as-told-to story for ESPNW. She said she and her husband, Kenneth, were excited to expand their family, but the star athlete felt judged and worried about what it would mean for her career.
Speaking at a TED2022 conference in Vancouver, Canada, last week, she said pregnancy has been called “the kiss of death” in track and field.
Ten months after her difficult birth experience, she won the record-breaking 12th world title and less than two years after that she won two more Olympic medals.
Off the track, she broke from Nike after the company offered her a 70% pay cut following her pregnancy. She has worked hard for women’s rights in contracts since then and signed with Athleta. She called the deal a more holistic sponsorship that focuses on her as an athlete, mother and an activist.
And in June 2021, Felix launched Saysh, a brand of athletic footwear for women, by women. She wore those spikes while earning her fifth Olympic berth.