Felix inks new sponsor deal after Nike rift

Allyson Felix (AFP)
Allyson Felix (AFP)

Los Angeles - Six-time Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix has inked a sponsorship deal with US leisure-wear brand Athleta following her split with Nike, it was confirmed on Wednesday.

Felix, the only woman in history to win six Olympic track and field gold medals, had been critical of Nike over its treatment of female athletes who took time off to have children.

The 33-year-old revealed in May she had been offered a vastly reduced contract by Nike after taking a break from the sport in 2018 during her pregnancy.

After failing to agree terms on an extension to her Nike deal, Felix competed without a sponsor at last week's USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines.

However, in a statement on Wednesday, Athleta, part of Gap Inc, confirmed that Felix had been taken on as an athlete.

"We were so moved by Allyson's purpose and passion, on and off the track, especially as she spoke to the unique experience of female athletes," Athleta chief Sheila Shekar Pollak.

"We are thrilled to welcome her to our family. She is an inspiration to all of us."

No financial details of the deal were disclosed, although the contract includes full protection during maternity, reports said.

"I'm just really thrilled about it," Felix told People magazine.

"The way that they are doing sponsorship to me is incredible. It is focused on me as a whole - as an athlete, as a mom, and as an activist and just to be supported in that way is amazing."

Felix raced for the first time in more than a year at last week's meeting in Iowa, which was also the trials for the US team competing at this year's World Championships.

Although Felix failed to qualify in the individual 400m, her sixth placed finish in the final means she is eligible for the 4x400m relay squad.

Felix has vowed to chase a place at her fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

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