USATF unveils new maternity policy for female athletes empowering them following pregnancy

World Athletics Championships Oregon22 - Day One
Allyson Felix of Team United States with her daughter Camryn after winning bronze in the 4x400m Mixed Relay Final at the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

The USATF, a national governing body for track and field sports in the United States, recently updated its maternity policies for female athletes to resume competing at elite competitions after giving birth.

Under the current policy by the USATF, female athletes receive aid from the Elite Athlete Health Insurance set by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. The policy provides financial aid in the form of insurance for one year after the end of pregnancy, given the athlete still shows the desire to compete.

The current policy also entitles the athletes to a specific stipend. The latest initiative by the USATF extends the recovery period for female athletes, offering them an increased number of chances to qualify for the funding.

However, this funding system is determined through a tiered system based on performance and rankings. To qualify for the funding, the athlete must be a finalist or a medalist in the most recent major meet, which includes the Olympics or World Championships. Other qualification criteria include finishing in the top 15 of the world rankings.

More focus was placed on the issue through the persistent efforts of former Olympian Allyson Felix, who confronted her sponsor Nike for allegedly demanding a 70% pay cut during her pregnancy.

"This program really is filling a gap" - Christina Clemons praises the new maternal policy proposed by the USATF

Christina Clemons reacts after competing in the Women's 100m Hurdles Semi-Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Christina Clemons reacts after competing in the Women's 100m Hurdles Semi-Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

American sprinter Christina Clemons recently praised the new maternal policy by USATF.

Clemons, who gave birth to her son Kylo on February 4, 2023, told the AP News that the extended time provided in the new policy relieves the burden of performance.

“There is a huge lack of support in sports in general when it comes to mothers, which is crazy to me,” said Clemons. “This program really is filling a gap and coming in and saving the day. You don’t feel so pressured to perform at a time when no matter what you do, you really can’t — not a year after pregnancy.”

The 33-year-old, who has her gaze fixed on securing a spot at the 2024 Olympics through the Trials slated for June, emphasized the importance of the new policy for female athletes who desire to start families during their professional careers.

“It’s extremely important because these changes that us mothers are making will change the outlook women have on becoming mothers while still competing,” said Clemons. “Many women wait until after they finish their careers to become mothers because of the fear of not being supported. We shouldn’t have to put our lives on hold when men don’t have to.”

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