Just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter, Allyson Felix is back on top of the podium and breaking world records. At the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, Allyson ran the second leg of the event's first ever mixed-gender 4x400 meter relay. Not only did Team USA win gold with a world-record time, but the event made double-history for Allyson in particular. She became the only athlete (man or woman) to win 12 gold medals at the world championships, surpassing the record she'd once shared with none other than Usain Bolt.
The last few months have been a rollercoaster for Allyson, one of the most decorated female track athletes ever. Her daughter, Camryn, was born premature via emergency C-section in November 2018. Since then, she's been caught up in a difficult contract re-negotiation with Nike, which refused to contractually agree that Allyson wouldn't be financially punished if she didn't perform at her best in the months after childbirth. Now signed on as the first sponsored athlete for Athleta, and with her daughter and husband watching from the stands, Allyson has been mounting a comeback ahead of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
This race was a step in the right direction. She handed the baton off with the US in second, due to a unique choice by the Polish team: they stacked their male runners in the first two legs, instead of in the first and last legs, as the rest of the teams elected to do. They hoped to build a lead wide enough for their female runners to maintain down the last two laps. Allyson's strong 400, followed by a steady turn by teammate Courtney Okolo and a blazing anchor by Michael Cherry, made that impossible. We can expect more exciting strategy and finishes to come, because this mixed-400 race will also be contested at the Olympics in 2020.
"It was really special," Allyson said of the win, in a post-race interview with NBC Sports. "It's been a crazy year for me, so just to be here to be running with this great team, I just feel so blessed." She said she's still "got a ways to go," adding, "I'm just grateful to be healthy, to be working my way back. It feels good."