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olympics

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How Olympian Allyson Felix Built Her Own Multi-Million Dollar Shoe Brand

Allyson Felix has made a name for herself in Olympic sports and business. Coming on the professional track scene in 2004, she has established a name for herself as a humble professional and businesswoman with solid core values.

Allyson Felix

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Allyson began her professional athletic career early. By 18, she had already earned a silver medal in the women’s 200-meter sprint at the Athens Olympics.

Today, she is the most decorated track and field athlete. A 5 time Olympian with 11 Olympic medals under her belt, Allyson has carved out a lane for herself and the many women she inspires with her athletic and entrepreneurial prowess.

Allyson Felix

Disrespected by Nike, Allyson Felix Fights Back

Allyson held sponsorship and endorsement deals with Adidas and Nike throughout her career. As a result, she was one of the most marketed athletes in Nike’s history. However, after going through a difficult pregnancy, she would discover that her sponsor to whom she was loyal, did not have fair practices surrounding maternity protections. This experience was a cause Allyson was prepared and determined to fight.

Black Olympian Fights for Maternity Protections

Giving birth to her daughter in 2018 was a life-threatening experience for the successful athlete. Experiencing pre-eclampsia, a condition that disproportionately affects black mothers, she had an emergency c-section eight weeks early.

As a result, she gave birth to her daughter Camryn who weighed only 3 lbs. This experience would be the catalyst for the fight she would encounter as a fierce advocate for the rights of athlete moms and females in general.

Following the expiry of her contract in 2017, Nike wanted to pay Allyson 70 percent less in her sponsorship deal than they did before her pregnancy. Shocked and disappointed, Ms. Felix publicly shared her experience, drawing awareness to female athletes’ unfair realities in the male-dominated sports industry.

As a result of her advocacy, Felix was able to inspire other female athletes to speak out about the unfair experiences they have had. In doing so, Nike was forced to change its maternity policy for all its athletes in August 2019. In addition, the enhanced maternity protections guarantee pay and bonuses for 18 months around pregnancy. Other athletic apparel companies have since followed suit.

Allyson Felix

Olympian Secures New Apparel Deal with Gap Inc.

Despite having no sponsorship representation during her last national championship appearance in 2019, Allyson forged ahead and boldly chose to overcome one of the biggest obstacles in her career. She realigned herself with an athletic brand that she believed shared her core values. As a result, she entered into a sponsorship deal with Athleta (owned by Gap Inc.) to sponsor her apparel. This deal made her the first sponsored athlete under the brand.

Felix’s Multi-Million Dollar Footwear Brand

Determined to continue making an impact for women, Allyson Felix successfully launched her female-focused shoe brand, Saysh, in 2019. Saysh’s core mission is “to undermine inequality with female athleticism and creativity.”

In May 2022, the brand successfully secured a multimillion-dollar deal in a round of funding that will enable them to expand its product offerings. The investment will help further the cause to design and offer shoes designed especially for women’s feet. The company will also be able to provide more maternity protections to its workers, increase its e-commerce presence, and expand its wholesale distribution.

When Nike tried to take her seat at their table, Allyson Felix chose to build her boardroom. Kudos to this fearless champ!

Tony O. Lawson


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Erin Jackson Becomes First Black woman to win Olympic medal in Speedskating

Erin Jackson made history when she earned a gold medal in the 500-meter speedskating event at the Winter Olympics in Beijing Sunday.

The 29-year-old former inline skater won the women’s 500 meters at the National Speed Skating Oval with a time of 37.04, earning her first Olympic medal in what has been her best event. She also makes history as the first Black woman to win an Olympic medal in speedskating, according to The Associated Press.

It was also the Americans’ first speedskating medal of the Beijing Olympics.

Erin Jackson

Jackson joined Shani Davis as the only Black athletes to win speedskating medals at the Olympics. Davis, also an American, won gold in the men’s 1,000 meters and silver in the 1,500 meters in the Olympics in Turin in 2006.

 

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Sha’Carri Richardson suspended from US Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana

US track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson has been suspended for one month from the Olympic team after testing positive for THC, a chemical found in marijuana, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Friday.

News of the infringement arrives four weeks before the start of the athletics competition at the July 23 to August 8 showpiece in Tokyo.

Sha'Carri Richardson

Appearing on NBC’s Today show, the 21-year-old confirmed that she had tested positive for THC, the psychoactive substance in cannabis, which she used after hearing that her mother had died.

She told NBC the news of her mother dying was broken to her by a reporter, sending her into a “state of panic” in the midst of the pressure to perform on the track.

“I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do, what I’m allowed not to do, and I still made that decision,” said Richardson.

It’s unclear whether Richardson will miss the Games altogether. She may still be eligible to compete in another event besides the 100m, such as the 4x100m relay.

Richardson said on TODAY that she would be “grateful” for the chance to compete in the relay, but is not focused on doing so.

“Right now, I’m just putting all of my time and energy into dealing with what I need to do, which is heal myself,” she told Savannah Guthrie. “So if I’m allowed to receive that blessing, then I’m grateful for it, but if not, right now I’m going to just focus on myself.”

 


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Olympian Allyson Felix Launches Her Own Shoe Company After Leaving Nike

Allyson Felix is a four-time Olympian and one of the most accomplished sprinters in U.S. track and field history. She is also the president and founder of her own shoe company called Saysh.

Two years after her public split with Nike, Felix announced the upcoming fall launch of her lifestyle company. Felix didn’t present as an activist at first glance, but her op-ed detailing Nike’s failure to provide maternity protection for its sponsored athletes proved otherwise.

Felix has since embraced her role as a fierce advocate for working moms in sports, and now she’s given birth to a company that’s dedicated entirely to women. Saysh’s first shoe, the Saysh One, is already available for preorder on the company’s website.

From the brand’s simplicity and the airy silhouette of the premiere shoe, it’s clear that Saysh shoes are designed with the everyday woman in mind.

“It’s really about meeting women where they are,” Felix said in a recent interview. “It’s for that woman who has been overlooked or feels like their voice hasn’t been heard. That was the biggest thing when I spoke out, was hearing from other women across industries. And having such a connection there, feeling like it’s so much bigger. There’s just that power in the collective.”

With a company led by women—including designers and engineers, Felix aims to fight against the unequal sports industrial complex and create a more equitable world for women and mothers in sports.

If you’re wondering, the track star has been running in a Saysh track spike during the Olympic trials and will wear them in the Tokoyo Games as well. Felix confirmed her spot in this year’s Olympics a couple of weeks ago, so she will technically be the first athlete to run in her own brand.

You can watch Allyson Felix perform in the unreleased Saysh shoes during the Tokoyo Games, which start July 23rd.


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Over 50 years later, Legends Inducted into Olympic Hall of Fame

Nearly 51 years after the organization expelled Tommie Smith and John Carlos from the Summer Olympics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee is bestowing its highest honor on two of the sports world’s most iconic activists.

Olympic Hall of Fame
1968 Summer Olympics: (L-R) Australia Peter Norman (silver), USA Tommie Smith (gold), and USA John Carlos (bronze) on medal stand during Men’s 200M medal presentation at Estadio Olimpico. Smith and Carlos wearing black gloves and raising fist for racial equality in USA. Black Power salute. CREDIT: Neil Leifer

The sprinters highlight the USOPC Hall of Fame’s latest induction class and will be formally honored at a ceremony Nov. 1 in Colorado Springs, the organization announced Monday.

Olympic Hall of Fame
John Carlos and Tommie Smith Credit: TONY AVELAR/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

The organization’s hall of fame was established in 1979. It has been dormant for stretches; this year marks the first induction class since 2012 and the 16th overall.

Smith and Carlos were responsible for one of the most recognizable moments in Olympic history, raising their fists in protest on the medal podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics. They have previously been bestowed with a long list of honors, including induction to the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Their exclusion from the USOPC’s hall highlighted the thorny relationship the organization has had with the sprinters for decades. At the 1968 Games in Mexico City, the USOPC — which was known as the U.S. Olympic Committee until changing its name this year — succumbed to pressure and sent the men home following their protest.

“One could be forgiven for rolling their eyes at the USOC finally — after 51 years — catching up with the rest of the world,” Dave Zirin, the sports columnist for the Nation who co-wrote Carlos’s autobiography, wrote in an email Monday.

U.S. Olympic officials were aware well ahead of time that a group of athletes had been considering a boycott of the 1968 Summer Games altogether. Among other things, the protesting athletes wanted more black coaches; South Africa and Rhodesia to be excluded from the Olympics; and the removal of Avery Brundage, the president of the International Olympic Committee who was accused of racism and anti-Semitism, from power.

Doug Roby, head of the USOC at the time, wrote Brundage a letter two months before the Mexico City Games commenced, saying, “We intend to have every athlete thoroughly understand that we will countenance no nonsense and that anyone that participates or that attempts to participate in any demonstration as referred to will be immediately suspended as a member of our team and returned to his home at the earliest possible date.”

In Mexico, Smith broke the world record in the 200 meters and Carlos finished in third. On the medal podium, each man raised a fist and bowed his head. They wore black gloves and no shoes, drawing attention to oppression, poverty and pride.

That sparked a swirl of activity from Olympic officials. The USOC initially decided against a suspension, intending to issue a warning to the rest of the American athletes competing in Mexico. The International Olympic Committee demanded a stronger response, fearing “that racial dissension might spread to other delegations if USOC refused to suspend Smith and Carlos,” according to a dispatch sent from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City at the time.

The IOC met twice the next day. According to that organization’s minutes, the group felt “something had to be done as this incident could not be ignored.” The IOC’s feelings were shared with the USOC, which held its own executive committee meeting.

The USOC sent out a statement to reporters expressing its “profound regrets to the International Olympic Committee, to the Mexican Organizing Committee and to the people of Mexico for the discourtesy displayed by two members of its team.” At a news conference, Roby “emphasized USOC action taken under pressure from IOC,” Paul wrote.

Roby died in 1992. If he had regrets, he kept them to himself. In letters that are now stored in the University of Michigan archives, he defended the decision and said feedback he received ran as much as 10 to 1 in support of the USOC’s response.

“The Olympic Games is not a place for demonstrations of any type,” he wrote in response to one letter-writer. “If we had let the incident regarding Tommie Smith and John Carlos pass without some sort of action being taken, we might have had some demonstrations of the Czechs against the Soviets, Israel against the Arab countries, South Korea against North Korea, or Cuba against the United States, to mention but a few, and our ceremonies would have been a farce.”

Smith and Carlos felt ostracized from the Olympic community for years but have increasingly been heralded as iconic activists and accomplished athletes. In 2016, they were invited to visit the White House and President Barack Obama, along with that year’s U.S. Summer Olympics team.

“Carlos and Smith have been proven correct by history,” Zirin wrote. “They were correct that South Africa and Rhodesia should not be allowed into the Olympics. They were correct that Avery Brundage was a racist who had no business heading the IOC. They were correct that the injustices of 1968 demanded a visceral and visual response. This is a case of the USOC finally acknowledging the nose on its face.”

Source: Washington Post