Allyson Felix is a track and field superstar. And lucky for us, she made time to chat about her journey, including her family, legacy, and retirement.

When it comes to sports, there are names known in every household. Names that have become synonymous with a standard of excellence that is matched by few and surpassed by even fewer. We wear their jerseys, cheer them on, and imitate their moves, hoping to one day come close to their greatness. They motivate us to strive for brilliance in our own lives and to stop at nothing to achieve it. 

Introducing Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix is that type of name. Six Olympic gold medals—a feat no other female track and field athlete has accomplished. Tied as the most decorated female Olympian in her sport’s history at nine Olympic medals. A three-time World Champion with the most gold medals of ANY track and field athlete at 13. Allyson Felix is THAT girl.

Felix has conquered every mountain in her sport, but what she’s done outside of the lines has been even more impressive. When she stood up to Nike in a New York Times op-ed about their poor maternity treatment towards her, we stood in awe of her courage. She vowed to return to the sport following the birth of her daughter Camryn by emergency c-section. And when she not only did that but also surpassed Usain Bolt to collect her twelfth and thirteenth gold medals, we were floored by her dedication. 

An Exclusive Interview

Recently, Felix announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2022 season. And as part of their “What’s Your Legacy” campaign, she partnered with hair care company Pantene to see legacy through her eyes.

But first on her To-do list is enjoying the fruits of her labor, especially with her husband and daughter. 21Ninety caught up with the living legend to discuss it all. Take a look at this exclusive interview with superstar sprinter, Allyson Felix:

Editorial note: This article on Allyson Felix was originally published on June 9, 2021, and updated to reflect current information.


Allyson Felix on Defining Herself


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Iman N. Milner: You have conquered so much already. How do you define yourself now?

Allyson Felix: It’s really bigger than just running and the sport. I really look at what I do and being a representation for women. I want them to be able to see that we don’t have to choose between professional life and motherhood — we can do it simultaneously


On Ending a Chapter


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IM: You ran your fastest 400m since 2017. One could say you’re one of the greatest athletes to ever lace-up sneakers. How do you feel about coming close to ending this chapter of your life?

AF: I’ve really been trying to embrace it. I’ve really enjoyed every single year. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but running has given me this incredible life full of beautiful opportunities. I am really just trying to take every moment in


On Prioritizing Her Health


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IM: How do you prioritize your general wellbeing while continuing to dominate in your sport?

AF: I really have to schedule it out. Whether that’s feeling overwhelmed and talking to my husband like ‘I need a day’ or my mom coming to get my daughter for a little bit. I am just making sure I can recognize when I need that and knowing that it’s ok to take that space. 


On Maintaining Her Mental Health


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IM: Right now, there is a larger conversation about mental health for athletes. How do you make sure to keep that part of you fed?

AF: Recognizing when I feel like I need help or need to talk to someone. As an athlete, oftentimes, you just think you have to keep pushing or working. But you have to take a step back and evaluate things. 


On What’s Next


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IM: What are you most looking forward to in your next chapter?

AF: A lot of different things but really family time. Being more present at home and really embracing motherhood. And having more time for issues, I’m really passionate about. Advocating for women and spending more time on the Black maternal health crisis


On Enjoying Her Accomplishments


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IM: Do you think you’ve been able to fully bask in everything you’ve accomplished?

AF: Not yet. I think when I’m done, I’m looking forward to a nice vacation where I can sit back and finally take it all in.


On Speaking Up


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IM: You took a pretty big stand on behalf of women athletes against one of the biggest athletic brands in the world. Why was it important for you to use your voice in that way at that point in your career?

AF: I really thought a lot about my daughter, and I was just like, ‘If I don’t take on this fight, who will?’. It’s been this way for so long, and it’s not ok. I felt really compelled to do it even though it was scary, and I knew there would be consequences but, at the same time, if I didn’t shed a light on it, I wasn’t sure anyone would. I felt like I had to do it. 


On Her Supporters


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IM: I think so many women felt endeared to you, even those of us who aren’t in sports, because it was such a courageous thing to do. So, thank you for that. 

AF: I appreciate that. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after that, but there was a lot of support from women all over. That was just even more eye-opening because there were so many similar experiences in all different walks of life. It was very encouraging. 


On Defining Legacy


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IM: The campaign that you did with Pantene is all about legacy. Often in sports, legacy is defined by medals or breaking records. How is legacy defined in your eyes, and what would you like yours to be?

AF: Previously, I would have defined my legacy by exactly what you said: the number of medals and records. But as I’ve gotten older and as life has changed, I definitely hope my legacy is advocating for women. I want to be remembered as a person who stood up when I felt that something wasn’t right. So that’s what I hope that it is, and that’s what I love about this campaign because it is celebrating the things away from the track that makes up who I am. 


On Family Time


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IM: What does quality time look like for you as a wife and mom?

AF: In our life, I talk about the tradition that I had with my mom where I would go into her room, and she would do my hair. Now I have that with Camryn. Even though it seems like something small it’s really special for us and it’s our bonding time. Doing things as a family is really important to me. Being able to all cook together or even go to the park—all those moments are very important to me. 


On What Strength and Beauty Means to Her


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IM: How do you define strength outside of the track?

AF: It’s what’s healthy to you. Strength looks like so many different things. After becoming a mother, I had to redefine that because I had this image of what it was. But if I’m healthy, if I am doing all the things that make me feel strong and feel confident in my own skin—that is strength. 

IM: How do you define beauty?

AF: In the same way, honestly, comfortable in your own skin. I think there’s beauty in so many different things.