There is a lot of stigmas attached to the capabilities of female athletes who return to competition after giving birth. Many people believe that women are incapable of caring for a baby while maintaining the demands of an athletic career, or that they will be too emotional to compete. Many critics feel the need to comment about the bodies of female athletes after they give birth. They criticize trivial matters like their style or weight gain, rather than acknowledging their talent or abilities. There are many female Olympians who are moms that dominate their sports and silence their critics in the process.
Here is a list of Olympian moms and their amazing stories.
Alysia Montaño, dubbed “The Pregnant Runner,” is a U.S Olympic athlete who competes in the women’s 800m and 1200m races. While pregnant, continued to compete in her races. Montaño competed up to the day before her baby was born. The day before her baby was born, Montaño participated in a race. That race was not her best performance and she finished in the last place; however, Montaño dominated the 1200m. Montaño received a standing ovation when she finally crossed the finish line.
In an interview, Alysia was asked why she wears a flower in her hair every time she competes. This was her response:
“The flower to me means strength with femininity… I think that a lot of people say things like you run like a girl. That doesn’t mean you have to run soft or you have to run dainty. It means that you’re strong.”Alysia Montaño
Montaño said that her completing her Olympic journey while pregnant was not easy. “It was true, in 2014 I did not hit performance goals, but I did go to work as long as I could. I ran five miles at 40 weeks and delivered my daughter at 2:30 the next morning”. Alysia implies that she did her best to maintain her records, but her contract was reduced because she was not able to compete the way she used to before she got pregnant. She fought for a very long time to get reinstated, but her contract remains decreased. Despite this challenge, Montaño refuses to give up. There is an old saying goes a winner never quit. Alysia has the courage of a true warrior. Thank you, Alysia, for your strength and inspiration.
Allyson Felix is a U.S track and field Olympic athlete. Felix is a six-time Olympic gold medalist, 11-time world champion, in the women’s 400m and the 4x400m relay event. While competing, Allyson became pregnant. While going for a routine checkup, Allyson was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia. Her baby girl was delivered not long after the appointment through c-section. Her daughter was born 8-weeks early.
Allyson’s road to recovery was very difficult. Between caring for her premature baby and tending to her illness, Allyson felt overwhelmed. In addition to these obstacles, Allyson was longing to get back on the track to compete. Despite her health obstacles and battle with post-partum, Felix was able to care for her baby and herself. She recovered and went back to training to the best of her abilities. Allyson knew the capacity of her body and refused to be held back by any circumstances.
Allyson Felix is an inspiration not only to women but to every human being on earth.
Her story proves that despite the challenges that life throws at you, you can still rise and achieve great things. Allyson’s story also shows that despite what our patriarchal society thinks, women can still achieve great things after giving birth.
Finally, after years of anticipation, Allyson got back to competing. Upon her return, Felix gave a tremendous performance and finished fourth. Rumours have been swirling whether or not Allyson would qualify for the upcoming world championship or the Tokyo Olympics this year. Since her return, she has been a tough competitor to beat. She has found her groove again and wants to win. A confirmation to Allyson’s Olympic return has not been confirmed yet. She knew what she was capable of and what is about to come. Stay tuned for an update on this story.
Shelly-Ann is a Jamaican track and field sprinter in the women’s 100m, women’s 200m and the women’s 4x100m relay. She is the first Caribbean woman to win the 100m gold at the Olympics. While competing, Shelly-Ann’s career became pregnant. She thought it was in her best interest to withdraw from competing to give birth and to prioritize parenting her child.
While on maternity leave, there were a lot of questions surrounding Shelly-Ann’s return. Many believed that Shelly-Ann would not return to sprinting and that if she did return, she would be able to compete the way that she did before she left. To shut down these rumours Fraser said, “No! I am not done I just had a baby and I am far from done.” During her year off, Shelly-Ann remained focus on her career while raising her newborn son. Shelly-Ann returned to fitness training just 10 weeks after her son was born. She also managed to maintain a healthy social life. You rock, champ!
Shelly-Ann finished maternity leave to return to competition in May 2018.
After returning to Jamaica after a stunning debut, Jamaica welcomed her return to the track with a bronze statue built in her honour. Shelly-Ann was honoured in front of the National Stadium in Kingston. The Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holiness, who attended the unveiling ceremony, tweeted: “May this statue serves as an enduring inspiration for all Jamaicans and a reminder that with hard work and dedication you can conquer the world”.
It was not long before Shelly-Ann placed herself back on the top of the podium. On November 23, 2019, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce shocked the world and all her competitors when she won the IAAF World Championship for the 10th time. Shelly-Ann held her son to show him off to the world, proving that women can do it all. Her determination is inspirational to us all.
Serena Williams is an American professional female tennis player and former world champion. She has won a total of 23 major singles titles in her career. Williams holds the most titles by any man or woman in the Open category. The Women’s Tennis Association ranked her world No.1 in singles on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. Serena played on opening while she was secretly 2 months pregnant and still played with outstanding form, with a superb performance. Serena won that match and later announced that she was pregnant.
Of course, like many female athletes experience, a pregnancy announcement is treated as a life-changing moment. Many people have opinions about what she should do to prepare for her child. Williams decided to take a step back from all competition to prepare for the arrival of her baby. After giving birth to her child Serena was not happy with the weight she was gaining. She said ‘’she had been told that breastfeeding makes a mother loss the weight”. Ironically, that was not the case with Serena. For her, breastfeeding made her gain weight faster. Serena was determined to get back in shape. Rather than waiting for her maternity leave to end, Serena shocked the world by deciding to return to competition just 8 months after giving birth.
Serena Williams returned to a world ranking spot at 451,
Despite this setback, she rapidly climbed the rankings. There were no opponents too tough or too strong for her to face. She conquered her opponents one by one as they came with even more tenacity than before she left on maternity leave. As of January 13, 2020, Serena Williams ranked 9rd internationally. Despite this amazing feat, Williams is not done yet. She wants to return to the number one spot and there is no doubt that she won’t be able to do so.
Lashinda Demus is a U.S Olympic competitor in the women’s 400m hurdles. Her personal best time for 400m hurdles in 52.47 seconds finishing in second place. Lashinda also holds an American record in 400m hurdles. As an Olympic mom, she multitasks parenting twin boys, training and competing at the same time. Lashinda is a well-accomplished athlete and has found immense success in the early stages of her career. She is a two-time Olympian who is embraced by her fans and her competitors. During her career, Rashida has won the USA Outdoor 400m hurdle champion four times. She is also an Olympic silver medalist in the 400m hurdles.
Lashinda is very passionate about improving the world of track and field. She is finding solutions to improve the competition better by tackling doping, a problem that she has seen impact her fellow competitors for years. Lashinda is using her experience and understanding of doping to improve the education of doping to other athletes. Her goal is to help promote fairness and good health in professional track and field competitions.
Lashinda is now retired from professional track and field. She is a fitness and dance instructor. She is one of the most inspiring hurdlers in the world. Lashinda has also had other passions that she loves. She also a lover of many forms of fitness, including dancing, so she is excited to share her expertise with the Moore Dancing community. Lashinda Demus is an inspirational icon to many mothers and athletes around the world.
Nia Ali is a U.S Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 100m hurdles. Ali is one of the latest among several professional track and field athletes in recent years to have major comebacks after having children. Ali won her championship while raising not one but two children under the age of 5. That is very challenging, don’t you think? Nia’s courage as a mom-athlete proves to mothers around the world that there is life after motherhood. Supermoms like Nia find the strength to accomplish their goals from their children. In turn, their children grow up with the same resilience that their mother has. Nia Ali is an Olympic mom who is a champion on and off the tracks.
On October 6, 2019, in Doha, Qatar, Nia finished first at the World Championships. The soon-to-be gold medalist paraded around the track with her two children, 4-year-old son and 16-month-old daughter. To share your victory with your children must be the greatest feeling. Thank you for your inspiration, Nia.
Natasha Hastings is a U.S. Olympian in the women’s 4x400m relay. At 32, Natasha found out that she was pregnant. In an interview, Natasha recalled that when out that she was expecting, she remembered thinking, “My lord, what is going on?” Even though she wanted a baby, eventually. I just was not expecting one at the moment.
At the time Natasha found out she was pregnant was just back from a knee injury, training for her outdoor season and hoping to compete in upcoming World Championships. Natasha and her fiance were planning to marry the following year in hopes that she would qualify for the Olympics. For someone who had been on and off the track with injuries, Natasha has been very persistent furthering in her career. She never let an obstacle get in her way. She has always kept her mindset on her goals by strategizing her priorities whether it is parenting or track and field. Hastings has that her doctors had given her safe authorization to continue training while pregnant. During this time she sustained a productive partnership with her sponsor Under Armour.
As an athlete, she said she wants to concentrate on dual-track goals.
In an interview, she said, “I’m just focused on being the best mom that I can be and then being the best Natasha that I can be, and however that plays out for me, I’ll be accepting of that”.
Natasha plans on returning to the track after she gives birth to her child, and as soon as it is healthy to do so. It may not be so challenging for her to return because she is still training. She is keeping her fingers crossed that she will make the qualifying rounds for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Natasha, you are an inspiration to all women struggling to balance parenting and a career.
Thank you to all our epic Olympian-moms.
You have inspired us to continue trying to find the balance between parenting and pursuing our goals.
Did we miss anyone?
Comment below your favourite Olympian mom!