NRL News

There’s mom strength:’ Mothers lead the way toward Summer Olympics in Paris

by | Jun 29, 2024

By Cassy Fiano-Chesser

The 2024 Summer Olympics are coming soon to Paris, France, and mothers stand ready to make a big impact.

Former Boise State All-American Marisa Howard is set to run in the Olympic Team Trials next week, and she and her coach, Pat McMurray, told KTVB that becoming a mother made her an even better runner.

“Trying to be a world-class athlete and train with a kid is a different thing,” McCurry said. “I think there’s mom strength too; especially on the endurance end, things kind of went through a different level. I think mentally, part of that mom strength is, it’s not her whole focus anymore. So, it gets to be somewhat like a healthier perspective with running and you’re doing it because you really want to do it, not because you feel like you have to.”

Howard said she’s looking forward to seeing her husband and son cheer her on while she runs.

“I feel like I’m a better athlete,” she said. “You know, I think I’m a more balanced athlete now, just from like a mental standpoint, but physically I’m a better and stronger runner. I think pregnancy can kind of show, you know, your weaknesses and you have to build back kind of from the ground zero. I think I’m a better and stronger athlete from the mental side and the physical side. He’ll be up in the stands with my husband. Have a little boy up there – it’s just sweet that that’s come true, you know, and we’re back here and I’m healthy and ready to go.”

Mothers made a big impact on the field earlier this year, too. According to Women’s Running, there are 32 mothers between the professional and sub-elite fields, which is made up of just 160 women — meaning moms make up 20%.

Mom athlete Stephanie Bruce ran in the Olympics Trials Marathon just four months after giving birth. “I remember with each Olympic cycle, I’d be looking around and you weren’t seeing many pro women [runners] having babies, and in 2012, I’d [think], ‘OK, now all the women who were the favorites are going to get pregnant and have kids,’” Bruce said. “Even in 2016, [after I’d had my two boys] I still was like, ‘OK, no one’s done it yet.’ Eventually, I had to just tell myself ‘Stephanie, just have your kids and get back on your own timeline.’”

Olympic superstar Allyson Felix, who is a sprinter, has been an outspoken advocate of mothers in sports, and has proven that motherhood doesn’t keep women from excelling in athletics. After becoming a mother, she broke Usain Bolt’s record as the most decorated athlete — of either sex — in World Athletics Championships history.

“Whether it’s as a professional athlete or in the corporate world or whatever, I think it’s really sometimes seen that you’re going into this next chapter of life [when you have a baby] and I just, I think that’s a misconception. There’s no reason that you can’t have your best performances after becoming a mother, or do your best work,” Felix has previously said, adding, “[Motherhood] is something that takes you to the next level and gives you even more reason to go after whatever that goal is.”

For Bruce, her sponsor — Hoka — was supportive of her plans to expand her family. “Honestly, I would not have been able to do that had Hoka not said, ‘Yep, we don’t see pregnancy as something of a detriment; we see it as we’re adding to the Hoka family,” Bruce said. “They realized, as an athlete, I didn’t suddenly become not valuable as a runner, because people don’t necessarily care that you can run 5:38 pace for a marathon and they run 8:30 pace for a marathon. It was huge for me to have them also not ever rush my timeline — it was never Hoka saying I need to run the [2024] marathon trials; that’s been my own personal goal.”

Another Olympic-hopeful runner, Betsy Saina, said Asic was likewise incredibly supportive of her pregnancy, something she feared would be detrimental to her career. “I’ll be honest, I was worried in the beginning about [potentially losing sponsorship and my contract] because as an athlete, [the possibility of not being paid] worries you more than the pregnancy,” Saina said. “But I was so fortunate in that [Asics’ Director of Sports Marketing] Ben Cesar said ‘Betsy, I want you to enjoy this pregnancy and we wish you well, take your time, and we will see you when you get back.’ Hearing that and knowing they would pay me my full contract, gave me such relief and a lot of motivation.”

Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Pro-Lifers