Allyson Felix Says Motherhood 'Really Helped Me Find My Voice' as She Prepares for Olympics
"The reason that I do everything now, I'm always thinking about her," Allyson Felix tells PEOPLE of her baby daughter Camryn
Allyson Felix is finding herself after welcoming her daughter.
The Olympic gold medalist — who holds the record for most medals at the World Championships — tells PEOPLE in an exclusive new chat how motherhood has transformed her life since she gave birth to Camryn in November 2018 via emergency cesarean section.
“It’s changed every aspect of me but I felt like the biggest thing was it really helped me find my voice,” says the track-and-field sprinter, 34. “It helped me to really see what was important and it’s given me a different motivation.”
For Felix, raising Camryn with her husband, American sprinter Kenneth Ferguson, has given her a new drive: “The reason that I do everything now, I’m always thinking about her.”
“As an athlete, I’ve been driven to win,” she explains. “I’ve been really disciplined, but now the purpose behind that is wanting to share these moments with her and tell her about overcoming adversity and some of the things I’ve had to fight for, and really so that she won’t have to have that fight when she grows up.”
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One adversity Felix had to overcome was fighting for equal rights as a female athlete. In May, the six-time Olympic gold medalist came forward with an op-ed in The New York Times about her experience as a Nike athlete during her pregnancy.
“Everything that I dealt with this past year with dealing with the maternity issues and the protection surrounding maternity and getting that in contract, I think that’ll be probably one of the biggest things that I’ll share with her,” Felix tells PEOPLE. “And how I had to fight and how it was scary and I wasn’t sure, but how it was important for me to stand by my beliefs and really stand by what I felt was right.”
Despite facing many challenges related to her pregnancy, Felix is truly enjoying motherhood. When asked about the most rewarding part of being a mom, she says, “I think just watching the joy on her face. Just watching her grow.”
“I’ve loved that, just the infectious laugh that she has and sharing life with her and all of these experiences. Being able to travel with her, I’ve really, really loved seeing her grow,” the mother of one adds.
Camryn, whom her proud mother calls “Cammy,” is growing, indeed — and the 15-month-old is already following in her parents’ footsteps.
“She’s just really taken off with … I would say walking, but she’s kind of running now,” Felix says with a laugh. “She’s doing that and saying some words and all of that fun stuff, so we are just trying to keep up with her.”
Cammy is already making strides in the direction of a sprinter like her mom and dad, but Felix says she’ll be supportive of her daughter no matter which route she takes later in life.
“I totally am all for whatever she wants to do,” the Olympian tells PEOPLE. “I would love for her to do a different sport than me, tennis or golf. I don’t know, but whatever she wants to do, even if it’s not sports at all. But I just know how amazing sports have been in my life, the opportunities and lessons they’ve taught me, so I’d love for her to have that experience as well.”
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One thing that Felix admits can be difficult is finding time for herself while maintaining her optimal level of athleticism and being a devoted wife and mom. “Just trying to figure out how it all works together,” has been the most challenging part about motherhood for the star athlete.
“I think most women, we have a tough time with that,” she explains. “For me, I want to be my best at my job on the track and also at home. Figuring out what that looks like on a daily basis [is hard] and I don’t think anyone has it all together. I know I don’t.”
Felix practices “being okay with that” daily. She also works on “knowing that there’s gonna be certain days where you feel like you’re winning in one category and another category is lacking, and just trying to do the best that I can with what I have.”
Felix and her husband, 35, have found the perfect way to keep their romantic spark alive despite balancing their busy calendars.
“I think it’s just important to really try to schedule time for ourselves in,” she says. “For me, it’s been hard because a lot of that is asking for help sometimes but it’s just — we have a great support system and it’s amazing.”
Felix’s parents have pitched in and helped with taking care of Camryn when she and Ferguson take time for themselves, too.
“My parents don’t live too far so they’ve been great about Cammy getting to spend time with them and then we can spend time focused on ourselves and our relationship. I’m just really treasuring some of that time just with us as well,” Felix tells PEOPLE. “It’s not always easy, but I think if you make it a priority then you can make it happen.”
As for welcoming a second child, Felix isn’t ready just yet. “I definitely still would love to have more children, but definitely when I’m done running,” she tells PEOPLE. “I think that is gonna make life a little bit simpler.”
One thing that she is ready for is her financial future. Felix recently met with a Northwestern Mutual advisor to discuss what’s ahead.
“That relationship and amazing experience with the advisor at Northwestern Mutual, I hope others can have that experience and kind of shift their mindset of how they think of financial planning,” Felix tells PEOPLE. “I thought it was just a great opportunity and I was really happy with the experience.”