- Six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix went unnoticed when a fan asked her about Simone Biles.
- The woman called Biles’ switch to Athleta “incredible,” not realizing Felix helped pave the way.
- Felix left Nike for Athleta in 2019. Two years later, Biles followed suit.
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Allyson Felix is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of sprinting, but she’s also often overlooked, something she is acutely aware of.
In a much-discussed profile in Time published Thursday, Felix recounted the tale of a stranger coming up to her while she worked out, seemingly not having any idea they were speaking with a six-time Olympic gold medalist.
Felix told the magazine that in May she was working out when she was approached by a woman who had noticed she was holding an Athleta water bottle.
Instead of asking Felix, who has been signed to the activewear company since July 2019, about her career, the woman opened by asking: “Do you know who Simone Biles is?”
In April, Biles became an Athleta-sponsored athlete, following Felix in leaving Nike for the brand.
Felix replied yes, to which the woman said: “It’s incredible how she left Nike to go to Athleta,” not realizing she was speaking to the first athlete Athleta sponsored and someone one who played a major part in the genesis of Biles’ deal by paving the way for her.
When Felix left Nike, she published a heavily critical statement, saying the American company did not support pregnant women or new mothers.
Biles was not directly critical of Nike when she left but seemed to take a veiled shot at her former sponsor, saying of Athleta: “I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing.”
In her Time profile, Felix again criticized Nike saying it was “beyond disrespectful” to be asked to star in an advertisement about female empowerment while negotiating maternity protections with the company.
“I was like, this is just beyond disrespectful and tone-deaf.
“Nike, sometimes, they feel like you don’t have another option. So they can get away with stuff like that because, where are you going to go?” she said.
“And I think that’s how I was always perceived: ‘She’s never going to say anything. She’s never going to speak out.'” Felix told Time.