Olympic athlete Allyson Felix reflected on Ryan Lochte’s robbery scandal at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in Los Angeles on Friday, stating that it was frustrating that the incident took away from all “these positive things that are happening” at the Rio Olympic Games.
“Unfortunately, it’s nothing new — being a woman in athletics always striving for equality with your male counterparts, sometimes it’s frustrating that something away from performance gets all this attention when on the track the women dominated,” she told TheWrap’s CEO Sharon Waxman.
“We had this feeling of sisterhood, supporting one another — that can be difficult because we are typically so competitive against each other. It was a different feeling at the games, where we were uplifting one other, so when you have something else going on, it can be disheartening because you are taking the attention away from all these positive things that are happening … It can be difficult to have something like that going on.”
Lochte claimed that he and three fellow U.S. swimmers competing in the Rio games were robbed at gunpoint. But Brazilian authorities soon countered that the athletes had actually been stopped by armed security guards and accused of vandalizing a gas station restroom.
Felix added that there was a talk among the female track and field athletes at the time it was happening. “It happens so often, it feels like, that something else goes on that… there’s no valid point to it,” Felix said. “It’s just taking away from so many great things that are happening.”
The six-time Olympic gold medalist and the most decorated U.S. woman in Olympic track and field history spoke about her run at the Olympics and an ankle injury two months before qualifications that nearly thwarted her bid for medals.
“My ankle completely collapsed, I tore multiple ligaments,” she revealed. “Every doctor told me, it did not look good, it was two months before trials … I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t run, so I had to be creative.”
By getting on the bike and getting in the pool, she managed to prepare herself for the Rio games, where she won two silver medals and one gold. And Felix hasn’t reached her full potential, she said — she still has a successful road ahead.
“I have tons of other interests,” she said. “I love children, I am passionate about education and business … Although this year was crazy with the challenges and injuries, I still feel like I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted. I am excited to continue running. I don’t know if I’ll go all the way to 2020, but I’m still excited to reach for excellence. There is more left there. I still feel like I can be better and do more.”
And Felix is aware that many young girls look up to her for inspiration.
“There are a lot of young girls that are watching the Olympics, and I know that not all are going to be athletes,” she said. “You still are inspired to go after whatever you are passionate about. I just know my own path, and looking up to amazing women made such a difference in my life. I do think it’s such a privilege to be able to be in front of girls and to show them that [someone that] maybe looks like them is going after something different and all the opportunities that can come from it. I do carry that with me and that responsibility, to be able to give back and relate to other people.”
TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in Los Angeles, held at the Montage Bverly HIllsy, also welcomed U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Diane Rehm, who since 1979 has hosted the Diane Rehm Show, and the winners of this year’s Courage Awards, Janine di Giovanni, Mabel Cáceres and Stella Paul.
The annual gathering brings together women of remarkable achievement to connect and inspire the leading influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in the key cities where those women work, create, gather, network and connect. The breakfasts in 2016 have convened in Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York and now Los Angeles.
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