Childbirth and motherhood will always be an intensely personal and unique experience. But for the most part, the return to work after giving birth is unanimously a tough one. From feeding schedules and limited sleep, to trying to claw back some time of your own, it can be difficult to balance the two, let alone feel like you’re thriving. Consider then, what such an experience must be like for an Olympic athlete, someone who doesn’t just need to show up to the gym or track each day, but needs to ensure they perform at their best if they want to succeed.
It might sound like an impossible feat, but time and time again, female athletes have proven that competing in sport isn’t separate from motherhood; you don’t need to choose between your passion and your desire to start a family, instead you can do both - and excel at them. Since women were first allowed to compete in the 1900 Olympics, mothers have continued to show their strength in their chosen sport. From those that came back from childbirth stronger than ever, to the incredible comebacks, it’s made for thrilling viewing for audiences around the world.
More importantly though, without mothers competing at the top levels of sport, we wouldn’t have the strong message that anything is possible that we have today. It’s thanks to these women that tireless campaigns for equal pay, maternal health, parental benefits and racial justice continue to play out in the field of sport, with women reimagining what it is mothers can do and are capable of. As a number of mums take to the Tokyo Olympics, including soccer player Alex Morgan of the US team, we’re shining a spotlight on five of the greatest champion mums in Olympic history.