In 2017, well-known American sprinter Allyson Felix broke her 7-year-old partnership with Nike. Felix wanted a new sponsor which prioritizes women and their health. Clearly, Nike’s then policy did not match her desired requirements.
Not only did she walk out, but she also founded her own company, Saysh. Like a true boss lady, she released her own shoes, the Saysh Air One.
She paired up with ‘Athleta’ after breaking it off with Nike. Athleta is a brand that mainly focuses on women’s clothing and other accessories in the world of sports and fitness.
Felix’s fight for equality
Felix shared through a 2019 New York Times op-ed about why she ended the agreement with Nike. The unsupportive behavior of the company towards female athletes who were pregnant or new mothers pushed her towards making this decision.
She also revealed that the old agreement with Nike ended in December 2017. While discussing the new contract, the company asked her to take a 70% pay cut and the reason behind this was her pregnancy. She further revealed that her request for some maternity protections was also denied.
Jun 20, 2021; Eugene, OR, USA; Allyson Felix takes a victory lap after placing second in the women’s 400m during the US Olympic Team Trials at Hayward Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
But now, after all the wrongs being done already and Felix walking out, Nike reformed its maternity policy. It now takes care of pregnant athletes and new mothers.
In an interview, Felix revealed how disappointed she was with the company.
“Yeah I was really happy that that policy was changed, I was disappointed that it took such a fight you know I left over that not happening I ..such a fight for it to happen,” said Felix.
However, she believes that this is just a small step. There is so much more that needs t0 be done to help female sprinters and, especially, mothers. We must ensure that women athletes are out there, treating equally, giving their best.
“But I think that there is definitely more that we can do for women to support women athletes, women moms, um, so they can be able to compete, have their best performances be able to travel with their children, all these things… for us to have our best performances on the other side of motherhood,” said the Olympic star.
Allyson Felix won 11 medals at the Tokyo Olympics
Felix also talked about her experience at this year’s mega-quadrennial games. As she took a stand against Nike’s policy and cut ties, despite how it affected her, she became a symbol of resistance and means of inspiration. Even though she was told it was over for her, she chose to get back up and prove her doubters wrong.
TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 06: Allyson Felix of Team USA prepares to race by resting in the starting blocks in the Women’s 400m on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 6, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Felix became the most decorated female track athlete in Olympic history after winning her 10th athletics medal. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
”It was different than any other because I felt like I was a representation for women, for mothers, you know, I was out there, I was told that my story was over and I know that so many women, just people in general can relate to that,” said Felix.
However, she was glad she could give the love and support back with one of her career-best performances. While top sprinters around the world wear brands like Nike and Puma, Felix crossed the finishing line wearing her own brand, Saysh. Truly, she is an inspiration for many.
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