LOS ANGELES â In what was billed as the last race of her professional career, Allyson Felix lost on Sunday.
But she was beaming again before she even caught her breath.
The race, held on a 100-meter track in downtown Los Angeles, culminated in “The Allyson Felix Race For Change”, an event presented by sportswear company Athleta and aimed at raising awareness of the importance of childcare and equity for women.
Felix, grabbing a microphone moments after finishing second in his last race, referenced Athleta when she said: ‘You asked me how I wanted to go out, and I said in my dream world run in the streets of LA with all my people.”
Onlookers cheered as Felix, who was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, continued, “It’s been a joy all day spending time with everyone.”
But not all the joy.
Ashley Henderson said he felt a pang of guilt after beating Felix in the 100 meters capped the day’s activities which drew a crowd that included Felix’s parents, older brother, husband and daughter. Hundreds of people mostly came to see FÃ©lix, the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history.
But it was Henderson, a sprinter from St. Louis, who won the final race in 11.46 seconds.
Felix was second in 11.66 seconds and Chloe Abbott, a sprinter from Michigan, was third in 12.34 seconds. The heat only included those three sprinters on the five-lane street track.
“I know it’s her event and all about her and it always is, no matter who came first or not,” Henderson said.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW:Stay up to date with our sports newsletter
Earlier in the day, Felix had helped his 3-year-old daughter, Cammy, into the starting blocks for the first time. Later, with Cammy wearing sparkly gold shoes, mother and daughter ran down the runway together. Although slowly, and a point Allyson Felix grabbing her daughter’s right hand and guiding her across the finish line.
No one seemed concerned that Cammy finished last on a day that offered a glimpse into the next phase of Allyson Felix’s life, as other mothers and daughters raced along the same track during the free public event.
About three weeks ago, Felix ran the last race of his competitive career – winning a bronze medal in the 4×400 meters mixed relay at the world championships. Now she was running with a different focus and focus.
After Cammy crossed the finish line, Allyson Felix ushered her into a VIP tent, brought her water and snacks, and lay down next to her on a comfy couch.
“Just being a mom really put me on a different path that I guess I didn’t expect,” Felix, 36, later told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s just being more thoughtful and definitely changing things up, always being focused on a specific goal all the time thinking about how I want Cammy to grow up and I think that inspires me to do things. different things and to make different choices.
The biggest recent choice: abandoning the track.
“I think it probably hasn’t even hit yet, what it’s actually going to be,” she said. “It’s been a very emotional year and it’s been hard for me to realize that it’s time for me to go. But because I’ve been doing this for 20 years, there’s a loss of this thing that I love to do and which excites me so much.
“I’ve spoken to other athletes who have gone down this path and I think it’s just going to be something that I’m going to have to figure out, even though I have my next big challenges and I’ve got it all planned out, that I’m going to do. But I think it’s more of an emotional thing, like a loss.’
Could it be time to start raising your own runway star in Camryn? After all, Kenny Ferguson, Cammy’s father and Allyson’s husband, is also a former sprinter who won three gold medals at the 2003 Junior Pan Am Championships.
“I’m kind of pushing her in different directions,” Felix said. âYeah, maybe it’s selfish, but I’ve been to so many track competitions. I would like to see her maybe play tennis or golf or maybe do something different. But of course, whatever she wants to do, I will support her.
FÃ©lix is ââalso thinking about his own future, and that will involve more than parenthood. She said her shoe business, Saysh, will focus primarily. She also noted that she had recently joined the International Olympic Committee‘s Athletes’ Commission and said: “So I’m excited to hopefully make an impact there, just keep trying to make one. part.”
You’re unlikely to see her coaching anytime soon after years of working with coach Bobby Kersee.
“I blame Bobby for not being the next Bobby,” Felix said with a smile. “I’m, like, ‘The pain you inflicted on my life.’ I think what he really left with me and Jackie (Joyner Kersee) is like the mentoring role, and what that’s like.
“I don’t have that training bug right now. But I want to help the next generation. I want to share my experience and help them along the way. In this way, I want to be active.”
She is already giving back by providing childcare â which she understood was essential after giving birth to her daughter in 2018 and eight months later traveling as she prepared for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Felix and Athleta committed $200,000 to help fund childcare costs for mothers who are also athletes when they travel to competitions. In June, she partnered with Athleta, &Mother and Vivvi to provide on-site child care for other athletes at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
“The dream is for it to be the norm at all events,” she said. “And obviously it’s going to take a lot of work to put this together, but that’s where I want it to be, and just find ways to be thoughtful and support women in general.”