Allyson Felix = Underdog, Unsponsored Mom

July 26, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa — Thursday night, Allyson Felix raced for the first time since giving birth to daughter Camryn last year. Running in the first round of the 400m at the 2019 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships, she ran a very pedestrian 52.20 and finished in 4th place in her heat, where the top 3 were guaranteed to make the second round.

You can watch it below:

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The good news for Felix was that there were also four time qualifiers to the semifinal round, and she was one of them. However, she didn’t know it.

Before she came through the mixed zone, she could be seen sitting behind a black curtain composing herself before facing the media onslaught — easily the biggest crowd around any athlete faced yesterday.

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She gave her interviews and talked about how she “felt rusty” but it was “kind of to be expected. I wanted to at least take this step and start racing again.” Later, she said, “Even if it wasn’t a great result for me. It’s a starting point. My biggest goal is next year (and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics). Now I have time on my side.”

Time most certainly wasn’t on her side — she has to turn around less than 24 hours later and race again in the semifinals, and will have to run faster than she did on Thursday to make the final.

Someone of Felix’s caliber almost never has had to rely on being a time qualifier, so was it possible she didn’t realize she had made the final? Yes. When then asked her if she knew she had made the next round, she said, “I didn’t know.”

Being an unsponsored underdog is definitely new for Allyson Felix. It may not last for long — she says she has “some things in the works” in terms of sponsorship, and with a full year to prepare, Felix likely won’t be running as slow as 52.20 at the Olympic Trials next year. But for now, she’s a bit more relatable, something that is helped by her new status as a mother.

“I’m a regular mom. At the hotel, I’m cleaning bottles. I’m changing diapers and I’m getting ready for races,” she said.

Underdog mom, Felix runs at 7:56 p.m. Eastern tonight on NBCSN.

Felix interview after round 1

Felix learning that she advanced to the semifinals:

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