American sprinter Allyson Felix made history Friday as the most decorated female Olympian in track and field after capturing bronze in the 400-meter final.
The 35-year-old sprinted her way to third place in the 400. Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo took gold and the Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino captured silver.
Felix’s time of 49.46 was just0.26 seconds behind Paulino and 1.10 seconds behind Miller-Uibo, which secured her a 10th medal and her first bronze. Her place on the podium broke the tie with Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey for the most medals by any female track athlete in Olympic history.
The bronze medal was a sweet victory for the track legend who survived a life-threatening pregnancy and childbirth just over two years ago.
In June, Felix finished second in the 400-meter race at the U.S. track trials in Eugene, Oregon, qualifying for her fifth Olympics since making her debut as an 18-year-old for the United States at the 2004 Athens Games.
“I’m just proud of making it to this moment,” she said at the time. “There’s so much that’s gone into this. Many times, I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I’m just proud of fighting and making a way somehow.”
Felix’s 2-year-old daughter, Camryn, weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces at birth Nov. 28, 2018, before spending her first weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. Felix, a Los Angeles native, underwent an emergency cesarean section at just 32 weeks of pregnancy.
Camryn, cradled in the arms of her dad and Felix’s sprinter husband, Kenneth Ferguson, was on hand at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field to cheer on her speedy mom.
Ahead of the women’s individual 400-meter final, Felix told NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt on Thursday that her Olympian journey has been “incredible.”
“This is so much bigger than running fast,” she said. “It’s showing women that we can be present at home and we can also thrive in our professions.”
Felix is expected to compete Saturday in the 4×400-meter relay, which the U.S. is favored to win. If the team secures a spot on the podium, Felix would win her 11th medal, surpassing Carl Lewis as the most decorated American Olympian in track and field.