SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Alysia Montaño inspired countless women when she raced in the 2014 USATF Outdoors while eight months pregnant.
Montano, a six-time USA Outdoor Champion, didn't make the Olympic team last year, and that's when she decided she was going to have another child at age 30. But Montaño doesn't enter a hiatus while developing a baby bump.
Sponsors may drop her, like Asics, and you don't get paid when you don't race in track and field. But seeing men get to have families and still compete against the best in the world makes Montaño want to close the gender gap in the sport.
"I decide I also want a family as well as part of a fulfillment in my life, as well. The only reason we’re afraid to is because we also have to feed that family," she told the media following a race on Thursday.
Montaño raced in the Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, this time only five months pregnant.
“People were like, oh, you’re going to run faster than you did last time because you’re less pregnant,” Montaño said, standing next to 2-year-old daughter Linnea. “I was like, I’m still pregnant.”
Montaño finished in last in her 800 meter heat with a time of 2:21.40. It was 10 seconds faster than her time in 2014. The top three finishers in the finals later in the week qualify for the World Championships held in London in August. Montaño doesn't just compete for herself, but does so to inspire others.
“I represent so many different people. I represent women. I represent black women. I represent pregnant women. Not everybody has the same platform that I do. I think it’s my responsibility to make sure I’m a voice and advocate for them," she said.
"Women let me know that my journey and my story had inspired them in so many different ways,” Montaño said. “I think there’s something about coming out to any venue, not really expecting to win, but just going along with the journey and seeing what comes out of it. And that’s the most beautiful part for me, being a track and field athlete, the platform that I have, I feel so responsible to be a representative of people who don’t have the same platform, don’t have the same voice that I do."
Montaño raced in a Wonder Woman top because Asics would not renew its sponsorship, despite her frequent calls. The actress who played Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, was five months pregnant while shooting the film. Seeing Gadot and her portraying a strong protagonist made Montaño commit to racing the event, even though she was already thinking about doing it.
Her 2-year-old, Linnea, was there to see what it was like when her mother did the same thing when she was pregnant with her, although she doesn't fully understand it yet.
“I go, mom is going to run with your sibling in her belly,” Montaño recalled. “I did that with you, too. And [Linnea] was like, ‘Yeah, it was sticking out!'”
She didn't think one race was easier or harder than the other. But running around, chasing Linnea during this pregnancy has kept her off the couch and napping as much as the first time. She doesn't want to appear delicate, but obviously she's careful. She stays out of the heat other than the two minutes that she races. Her doctors give her advice along the way.
“The weird part about five months is you’re still growing and like shifting a lot,” she said. “So every week you have to readjust.”
After the pregnancy, she'll continue to race.
"I don’t have a contact. I don’t have a coach," she said. "Running is mine. It will always be mine. Nobody defines it for me, the coaches don’t define it for me. The sponsors don’t define that for me. It’s just about that. It’s about my journey."
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