Allyson Felix opens up about 2021 Olympics, Naomi Osaka and ‘taking up space’ as a black female athlete

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Allyson Felix may be the most decorated American Olympian in women’s athletics history, but the six-time gold medalist wants her legacy to go beyond her equipment. Right before the Tokyo Olympics, Felix stars in Pantene’s new What’s Your Legacy campaign to share more of her life as an activist and mother to her 2-year-old daughter, Camryn.

“I feel humble and proud to be a part of the What’s Your Legacy campaign,” Felix told ELLE.com on Zoom. “I love that they point out that my heritage is more than what I did on the track. It’s about speaking and using my voice, and also that legacy with my daughter and how I’m going to pass it on. at his. ” For Felix, this also includes the traditions of beauty. “Growing up, it was really special when my mom did my hair. It was this time where we got to bond and spend time together. And now as I start to style my daughter Cammy, we can pass that on. tradition, ”she adds.

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Coming up, Felix talks about her new partnership with Pantene, the upcoming Olympics, and why she’s “really proud” of Naomi Osaka for standing up for female athletes and mental health.

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Do you remember when you first started using Pantene?

When I was younger we did it somewhere along the way. Yet when the Gold Series came out it was this re-introduction and a product made by black scientists and perfected by black stylists. Being able to wear my hair naturally or how I want to wear it. Being able to have these products that help my hair stay healthy and able to manage it has been special.

What was your reaction when you heard that the Olympics were going to be postponed?

I was devastated. I mean, as an athlete it’s all about timing, and it’s so strategic. To me, I was like, oh my god I’m going to be a year older. I was ready now. I just had to take the space to grieve it and tell myself, okay, this won’t be what I imagined. Once I gave myself that time, I was like, okay, I have to get up and rotate and figure out how to continue. It was a difficult time once I heard the news.

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How has your training for these Olympics been different from previous years?

I continued to train eventually throughout [lockdown]. I exercised in my neighborhood, literally on the streets outside my house and in the park or on a secluded soccer field. Since I have so much experience and am older, I just had to be smarter, train smarter, and allow myself to recover from all the intense workouts. It’s always the same intensity. I feel like I had to tweak things here and there.

Do you have personal or professional goals for these Olympics?

Every time I go to the Olympics, I would like to come away with gold medals. This is definitely my goal. But I would also say that this one is more than just a competition. It’s just about making it happen for me. It’s about telling my daughter these stories of overcoming adversity, the past two crazy years, and what it means to be a fighter and not give up when the going gets tough.

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Can you explain to me your beauty routine and how it fits into training?

As a professional athlete, it’s a pretty healthy lifestyle. I train every day and it has helped me improve my well-being. Then beauty, I train outside in the sun almost every day. I am really on the health of my skin. I love the SK-II cleanser, and I use it, followed by the Olay Moisturizer with SPF. Depending on what I do, I might wear makeup if I go out with friends.

Do you have any advice for other working moms during this really weird time?

Be kind to yourself. I think we’re all trying to figure it out, and I had to give myself grace through it all. I feel like there are days of work on the track, I feel like I’m thriving, and everything clicks, and it’s awesome. And then I come home, and I’m like, oh my god, I’m not doing as well as I would like here. I can’t cook dinner, or my daughter is up all night and things are just chaotic. It’s just a matter of looking at your support system and realizing that every day isn’t going to be great. And it’s good.

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Mental health has become a serious topic in sports, especially for female athletes. What do you think of this conversation?

I think it’s so important. I’m just very proud of Naomi Osaka and everything she stood for. And I often feel like women have to stand up for themselves, and I don’t think they should, but that’s something we had to do. It’s such an important conversation to have and hold the authorities accountable. Sometimes things have been in place for so long that we follow them, and we have to question some of those systems that have been in place.

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How do you approach your mental health as a black female athlete?

I have to pay attention to what I need and take up space when I need it, and understand that I am faced with a lot of things. There is a lot of pressure, and there are a lot of obstacles to break down, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. And I think just for me, even just acknowledging it, it’s a step. And in saying that, sometimes I will need to take more time to get through this or talk to someone about it. Just realizing that’s a big part of it.

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