Five supermoms in Doha
The Doha World Championships gave hope to sportswomen faced with a choice between having a family and competing at a high level. Jamaica’s super sprinter, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and evergreen American speedster Allyson Felix are high-profile examples of what athletic mothers can do, but in Doha, they were among a quintet of ladies who came back from pregnancy to win medals in the athletics showcase.
Germany’s Christina Schwanitz bounced back from giving birth to twins in July 2017 to win a bronze medal in the same shot put contest that saw a historic silver medal for Danniel Thomas-Dodd. The 33-year-old Schwanitz, World champion in 2015, spoke for all mothers who still harbour the competitive urge when she said, “I do not want to be without my sport at the moment, but I also do not want to be without my children.”
A month after the German gave birth to a boy and girl, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and husband Jason became parents of son Zyon. After a cautious return to the track in 2018, ‘Mommy Rocket’ has won all but two of her 100m races this season. To top everything off, she won her fourth World 100m crown in Doha, and the winning time, 10.71 seconds, is the fastest time in the world for 2019.
Chinese walker Liu Hong was the last of our Doha supermums to give birth in 2017 as her daughter arrived in November that year. At the World Championships, Liu won the 20KM walk in commanding fashion.
In Doha, American 100m hurdler Nia Ali won her first World title in a personal-best time of 12.34 seconds. That’s a remarkable comeback from the birth of her second son in June 2018. Her first boy was born in 2015.
Well known to Jamaican fans since she competed in the 2002 World Junior Championships in Kingston, Allyson Felix endured a difficult pregnancy and welcomed her daughter in December 2018. Though she had very-little preparation, the 400m World champion of 2015 qualified for the US 4x400m relay pool at her National Championships and ran herself into better shape before Doha.
Once the Worlds began, she looked more and more like herself. The 33-year-old Californian bounced a 50.5-second leg to help the US to gold in the mixed 4x400m relay in world-record time and then burned a 50-flat stint in the first round of the women’s 4x400m.
Fraser-Pryce and Felix are apparently kindred spirits. “We’ve talked a lot this year and been there for each other,” Felix told reporters after her gold-medal runs in Doha. “She’s been an amazing support. I’m just thrilled to see her back on top and better than ever, and I hope that is an inspiration to others. I know that she’s an inspiration to me.”