Tokyo 2020: Meet the Moms of the U.S. Olympic Team

Tokyo 2020

Though it’s been delayed a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo has finally arrived! Team USA consists of over 600 athletes at this year’s Summer Games, but 12 of them are pulling double-duty as moms.

Whether they’re a mom of teenagers or just six months postpartum, the moms representing Team USA in Tokyo are making history, and making their kiddos proud.

Tough as a Mother

International guests and spectators are not allowed to attend the Tokyo Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes family members and friends of the athletes competing.

The unprecedented nature of this year’s Olympic Games means these moms will be competing in Tokyo alone, without their kids or support systems there to cheer them on.

Despite the challenges of competing in the Olympics during a global pandemic, these moms are proving they have what it takes to be both a mother and an athlete.

Meet the Moms Representing Team USA in Tokyo

Allyson Felix — Track & Field

The most decorated American woman in Olympic track & field history, Allyson Felix is heading into her fifth Olympic Games, but her first as a mom.

 

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After collecting her record NINTH medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Allyson Felix set her sights on becoming a mom. In 2018 after a severe case of preeclampsia and an emergency c-section, Felix welcomed her daughter Cammy, who spent her first month in the ICU.

Felix has since raised awareness about racial disparities in maternal mortality, and even testified in Congress about her own experience.

At the Tokyo Games, the 35-year-old has the opportunity to tie or break the record for most medals won by an American track & field athlete. The current record is held by Carl Lewis (10).

Gwendolyn Berry — Track & Field

Tokyo 2020 will be the third Olympic Games for hammer thrower, Gwendolyn Berry, whose story of becoming a mom just three weeks after her 15th birthday is one of trial and triumph.

 

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After giving birth to her son Derrick during her freshman year of high school, Berry said having someone looking up to her made her want to “thrive a little harder.”

Seventeen years and two Olympic appearances later, Berry is already making waves as she heads into the Tokyo games—not for her elite hammer-throwing skills, but for using her voice as an activist athlete.

 

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During the U.S. Olympic track-and-field trials in June, Berry, who placed third in the hammer throw, turned her back to the American flag as the national anthem was being played. The demonstration, which followed two days of Berry holding up an “Activist Athlete” t-shirt, has garnered a slew of both backlash and support. The demonstration was not Berry’s first in speaking up against racial injustice, and most certainly will not be her last.

At the 2019 Pan American Games, Berry raised a fist on the podium – a demonstration that resulted in her being publicly reprimanded and put on probation by the USOPC. Berry’s demonstration, which was largely fueled by the pressure she feels raising a  black teenage son in America, has since sparked radical change.

 

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In March of 2020, the USOPC issued an apology to Berry and announced it would allow racial and social justice demonstrations at U.S. Olympic trials.

Despite the policy change, the Tokyo Olympics will prohibit all “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda … in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

“I’ll figure out something to do,” Berry said of her plans for making a statement in Tokyo.

Brittney Reese — Track & Field

Making her fourth Olympic appearance in Tokyo, Brittney Reese is a force to be reckoned with.

 

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Consistently one of the most accomplished athletes around the globe, Reese has earned two Olympic medals and eight medals across the World Championships in long jump.

The 34-year-old is a mother to her godson Alex, who she adopted in 2016 after a longtime friend was no longer able to raise him. Alex, who is now 13, is following in his mother’s footsteps as a championship-winning long jumper.

“He says he’s gonna have more medals than me,” Reese joked in a 2019 interview.

Quanera Hayes — Track & Field

After giving birth to her son Demetrius in October 2018, Quanera Hayes says returning to the track to prepare for her Olympic debut was challenging.

 

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“Coming back, it was tough. It was like I had to learn how to run all over again. I couldn’t come out of [the blocks], my stride was different.”

But after overcoming the hurdles of returning to her athletic career as a new mom, Hayes’ motherhood was put to the real test last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic separated her from her son for several months.

 

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Hayes’ husband, Demetrius Sr., is from the Bahamas and was visiting family in his home country with baby Demetrius when the island shut down due to the pandemic.

“He was stuck in the Bahamas for four months,” Hayes said. “I couldn’t get to him, they couldn’t get to me… It was the worst experience of my life. He was growing up and he was learning new stuff without me.”

Luckily, their separation while she competes in Tokyo will be much shorter. Still, nothing beats their emotional reunion last summer.

Sally Kipyego — Track & Field

Sally Kipyego is joining Team USA for her second Olympic Games, but her first as a member of Team USA.  After taking home silver in the 10,000 meter (marathon) while representing Kenya at the 2012 Olympics, Sally officially became a U.S. citizen in 2017. That same year she gave birth to her daughter, Emma.

But the comeback from childbirth was not as easy as the 35-year-old athlete had hoped.

 

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“A lot of women have children, and they come back and somehow they run and they’re fantastic,” she said after making the U.S. Olympic team. “That was not my story. My body fell apart. I got sick all the time. I couldn’t even put together a month of training without getting fatigued.”

Kipyego eventually trained in her native Kenya where she sustained a 5:13 per mile average at altitude, and was ready to take on Tokyo, representing Team USA.

In addition to her 3-year-old daughter Emma, Kipyego shared on Instagram last month that another young girl named Jerop has recently joined their family.

Aliphine Tuliamuk — Track & Field

New mom Aliphine Tuliamuk is headed to Tokyo with her 6-month-old daughter Zoe in tow after petitioning the International Olympic Committee on behalf of breastfeeding moms.

The IOC’s decision to bar international spectators, was devastating for all of the athletes competing on the World Stage in Tokyo. But for Tuliamuk, who gave birth to Zoe in December 2020, the decision meant choosing between being an Olympian and being a mother.

In June, after Tuliamuk submitted a petition, the Tokyo 2020 organizers announced that breastfeeding athletes will now be able to bring their babies to the 2020 games along with a caretaker for the child.

“Thank you to IOC and the host country of Japan for making sure that nursing moms didn’t have to choose between their babies and their careers,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

At just six months postpartum, Tuliamuk will be competing at the highest level in Tokyo, taking on the 10,000 meter (marathon).

“In the future, [my daughter] will be able to look back and say, ‘My mom was able to run a marathon at the Olympics six-and-a-half months after having me,’” Tuliamuk told On Her Turf in April. “And I hope that inspires her… and other little girls and boys, too.”

Alex Morgan — Soccer

While a postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games certainly threw a kink in most athletes’ plans, it was a welcome delay for Team USA striker, Alex Morgan. The 32-year-old gave birth to her daughter Charlie in May 2020, just two months before the Tokyo Games were originally scheduled for.

 

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One year later, Morgan is making her third Olympic appearance in Tokyo, seeking her second Olympic gold medal. She’s the fifth US Women’s National Team player to make an Olympic roster after giving birth.

Morgan took to Instagram earlier this month with a photo of her snuggling Charlie.

“I’m going to miss my baby girl so much this month,” she captioned the post. “Charlie girl, I’ll make it worth it!”

Foluke Gunderson — Volleyball

Returning to the Olympic Games for a fourth time, Foluke Gunderson is competing as a mom for the first time.

After winning silver in 2012 and bronze in 2016, Gunderson gave birth to son Olukayode “Kayode” Ayodele in late 2019.

The 33-year-old is one of four returning Olympians on this year’s U.S. women’s volleyball team. Collectively, the team is hoping to strike Gold for the first time ever in Tokyo.

Skylar Diggins-Smith — Basketball

Making her Olympic debut in Tokyo, Skylar Diggins-Smith has already made her mark on the court as a mom. After playing the 2018 season while pregnant, Diggins-Smith gave birth in April 2019 to her son, Rowan “Seven” Smith.

 

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Diana Taurasi — Basketball

Joining Skylar Diggins-Smith on the court in Tokyo is another mom, Diana Taurasi. After winning her fourth Olympic medial in Rio, Taurasi became a mom. Her wife and two-time Olympic silver medalist for Australia, Penny Taylor, gave birth to the couple’s son Leo in 2018.

Heading into her fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo, Taurasi, along with long-time Team USA teammate Sue Bird, could become the first basketball players in history to win five Olympic gold medals. The U.S. women’s basketball team has their sights set on a seventh straight gold medal.

Mariel Zagunis — Fencing

The most decorated U.S. fencer in history, Mariel Zagunis is making her fifth Olympic appearance in Tokyo this summer, but her first as a mom.

 

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After taking home bronze in Rio, Mariel gave birth to her daughter Sunday Noelle in October 2017. She says that having a daughter is now her biggest motivation.

The 36-year-old has been outspoken about gender equality in her sport. Despite fencing being one of the original sports in the Olympic Games since 1896, Women were only just allowed to compete in the sport for the first time in 2004.

Cat Osterman — Softball

With the return of softball to the Olympic sports roster this summer 13 years after being dropped from the Games, U.S. team member Cat Osterman has her sights set on gold.

The 38-year-old competed in the 2004 Olympics where she won gold, and the 2008 Olympics, taking home silver. She retired in 2015 and later married her husband, Joey Ashley, and became stepmom to Bracken.

 

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With Softball being reintroduced to the Summer Games in Tokyo, Osterman came out of retirement, and will compete as one of the fifteen members of the Team USA softball team.


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Bri Lamm
Bri Lamm is the Editor of ForEveryMom.com! An outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure, she lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese all while capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras. Follow her on Facebook!