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“I Can Do Other Things” : Allyson Felix opens up about the next chapter

Felix explains her shift from sports to business
Seven-time Olympic Gold medalist Allyson Felix joins Golf Central to speak about her journey from sports to businesswoman and the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit

With 11 medals in 5 Olympic appearances (7 of which are gold), Allyson Felix, 38, is the most decorated American athlete in Olympic track and field history.

The 20-time world medalist retired after the 2022 season and while many know her for her historic accomplishments on the track, there is so much more to Allyson Felix.

Mom (soon to be mom-of-two). Wife. Advocate for Black maternal health. Executive Producer. Business woman. Cofounder and CEO of Saysh, a shoe-company designed for women: Those are just a few of the many hats she wears after concluding her professional athletic career.

NBC Sports spoke with the Los Angeles native at the Planet OMEGA exhibition in New York City in November, where Felix was part of a panel discussion amongst Olympians and Paralympians to discuss her career and its connection to time.

Felix opens up about what she’s learned about herself in this next chapter of life, why advocacy is so important to her, and what’s next in the conversation below.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You’ve been open and honest about your personal experiences throughout your journey and it’s been incredible to watch you transition from athlete to advocate. Did you ever imagine that you’d be here?

Felix: No. I think for the majority of my career I was an athlete that was so focused on competition, really staying in my comfort zone, and feeling like I can’t have a strong opinion on anything. If you would have told me early on that I would be in this place I would never believe you. But I’m really grateful that I’ve made this transition and found my voice and I’m able to talk about things that I’m passionate about.

You’ve brought so much awareness to the challenges that Black women face in pregnancy, you’ve fought for maternity rights for athletes, you’re changing the game in women’s sneakers with your brand Saysh. What’s next for you in the advocacy space and why are these things so important to you?

Felix: Really continuing to do more around maternal health. My own personal experience with it really opened my eyes but now [hearing from] friends, colleagues, and with Torie Bowie’s passing, it’s just a lot of motivation.

When I hear the statistics that almost 82% of black women’s complications and deaths in pregnancy are preventable, to me it’s heartbreaking. But it’s also very hopeful that more needs to happen. I want to continue to do that. I want to continue to grow my company and keep doing the same things I’m doing.

Allyson Felix Saysh.JPG


You’ve had your hand in so many things in regard to Black maternal health but you said there’s so much more to be done. What else would you like to get into in that space?

Felix: I think there’s a lot of kind of contributing factors. I think a huge part of it is raising awareness around it. Telling my story and also amplifying other stories. The documentary Birthing Justice (which Felix was an executive producer on) was a huge part of that.

Pushing for more policy change is also important and really having medical professionals listen to Black women. That’s one of the biggest things that we hear. We’re not heard and our pain is not perceived, so I’m continuing to fight that battle as well.

Allyson Felix and Wes.JPG


You and your brother Wes have really navigated the business side of your career on your own. At one point you said, I’m tired of having to feel like no one is really fighting for me. I think there are a lot of pro athletes that can resonate with that. With all of the knowledge that you’ve learned over the years would you ever coach or be an agent?

Felix: I think my passion lies more in mentorship. Mentorship has changed my life. Jackie Joyner-Kersee has just been an incredible person who’s invested in my life. Those relationships are really special for me with younger athletes and just being open.

I remember when I was coming up, having a lot of questions, and sometimes you feel scared to ask them or just getting input on certain things and being able to give my experience and help. I’m super open to that and try to make sure that everyone knows that they can ask me their questions.

You’ve been an OMEGA Ambassador since 2022. Can you talk about the Planet OMEGA Exhibition and Panel and what this partnership means to you?

Allyson Felix: It’s really just special to see the history laid out in such a beautiful way. I think there’s so many iconic pieces but also just the history of the brand. I remember my first Olympics in 2004, going to the gifting suites and all the athletes got a watch. That was my first introduction to the brand and it was really cool. Now to be an ambassador, it’s really fun to see it come full circle.

The precision that the brand has of being the timekeeper for the Olympics for such a long time is special. All the things that they stand for really aligns with myself personally.

OMEGA Panel Discussion With Olympic Ambassadors Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles, Oksana Masters and Nathan Chen At The Planet Omega Exhibition Launch

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: Allyson Felix attends the OMEGA panel discussion with Olympic ambassadors at The Planet OMEGA exhibition launch at the Chelsea Factory on November 10, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for OMEGA)

Getty Images for OMEGA

What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself in this chapter of your life?

Felix: I think really that I can get outside of my comfort zone and that I can do different things. I think for a long time I kind of felt like I had to stay in this lane. Now I realize that, that’s not true. Whether it’s business or advocacy or whatever the thing is, it might feel scary at the beginning, but I can do other things.

I love that! How does it feel to watch the evolution of the possibilities for track and field athletes. It seems like a few years ago the bar was set at athletes turning pro and getting those sponsorships to make a sustainable living while they train. Now track and field athletes are ambassadors and brand partners, they’re walking in fashion shows and not being limited to the space of track and field, what does that mean to you?

Felix: It’s everything to be able to see. I think early on, that’s what we were really pushing for. There were so many people before me who really paved the way and it’s really exciting to see. We want to keep building on that, especially in track and field—a sport where athletes haven’t received what they deserve for a long time. To see them being more versatile and getting out there more is really special.

OMEGA Panel Discussion With Olympic Ambassadors Allyson Felix, Noah Lyles, Oksana Masters and Nathan Chen At The Planet Omega Exhibition Launch

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Noah Lyles, Nathan Chen, Allyson Felix, Oksana Másters with moderator Craig Melvin on stage at the OMEGA panel discussion with lympic ambassadors at The Planet OMEGA exhibition launch at the Chelsea Factory on November 10, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images for OMEGA)

Getty Images for OMEGA

You and so many other track and field athletes really did pave the way to make that happen but for a lot of people that are newer to the sport a face that they know is Noah Lyles and he’s been using his voice and his platform to really get people excited about the sport. What do you think of all that he’s been doing?

Felix: I think it’s perfect for the sport and for bringing a new audience and a younger generation to it. I also think when you know someone’s personality more and you can follow it, it really [encourages] people to follow along. There are [track and field] events beyond the Olympics and you can keep up with [the sport] so I think it’s great.

Paris 2024 is right around the corner. Are there any track and field athletes that you are most excited about watching?

Felix: I’m really excited to see Anna Hall. She had a great world championships and I think she’s really on the rise. A lot of the young collegiate kids, I feel like we just have so much depth and that’s really exciting. Gabby Thomas, I think she’s on the rise. There’s no shortage of athletes. Of course, Noah [Lyles].

Your daughter Camryn is growing so much and I know that you get to be more involved with her now that you’re not competing. What is something new that she’s taught you?

Felix: I love her fearless spirit. I think it pushes me more in that direction. Even trying new things. It’s really fun to see her doing so many things now. I love being able to be present in all of the big things but also all the little things like just taking her to school and picking her up.

Allyson Felix and Cameron.JPG