Elaine Thompson-Herah may have grabbed all the headlines with her 100m and 200m double triumph at the Tokyo Olympics.
But two other track athletes also made their mark at the Games – Thompson-Herah’s Jamaica teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the USA’s Allyson Felix.
Photo via AIPS Media
Fraser-Pryce took the silver in the 100m and won gold in the 4x100m relay, making her an eight-time Olympics medallist. What’s more, her silver in Tokyo makes her the only woman in Olympic history to win four individual 100m medals.
Add to this her 10 gold and two silver medals at the World Athletics Championships over the years, and it’s clear why the 34-year-old has been one of the most dominant and decorated female track athletes.
Fraser-Pryce had been widely expected to retire in 2017 after announcing that she was pregnant. However, she overcame an emergency C-section and other post-pregnancy complications to work her way back onto the circuit before returning to peak condition again.
Fraser-Pryce has already announced that she will remain in action for another year, before finally hanging up her spikes after the 2022 World Championships.
Allyson Felix is another star who entered the record books in Tokyo.
Photo via NBC News
She took the bronze in the 400m, before helping the American team to victory in the 4x400m relay.
It brought Felix’s Olympic medal tally to 11 (seven of them gold), making her the most decorated US track and field athlete in Olympic history. (The great Carl Lewis held the previous record with 10 medals.)
Just like Fraser-Pryce, the road to Olympic glory was not easy for Felix either.
In November 2018 she struggled with preeclampsia and needed an emergency C-section to deliver her daughter.
This was followed by a high-profile dispute with her then-sponsor over her poor maternity treatment. (Felix’s sponsor wanted her to return to action as soon as possible after giving birth)
Also like Fraser-Pryce again, Felix will not be competing at the next Olympics, as she plans to retire before the 2024 Games in Paris.
With a well-known gender gap in professional track and field, athletes like Fraser-Pryce and Felix have broken barriers to show that women (and mothers) do not need to accept the current flaws in the system.
In fact, Felix and some of her other fellow female athletes have become advocates for maternal health, parental benefits and equal pay.
Their mere presence on the Olympic stage also serves as inspiration to others that mothers do not need to choose between their family and professional lives.
By: Nicholas Darren John