How Olympic Sprinter Allyson Felix's Family Has Helped Her On Her Road To Rio

U.S. track and field sprinter Allyson Felix may be competing in her fourth Olympics, but she hasn't forgotten how she got to the top of her game, the struggles of being sidelined with a hamstring injury, or the loved ones who have had her back through thick and thin. And it will come as no surprise that one constant force in Felix's journey has been her family — particularly her mother, Marlean Felix. "My mom is one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle," Felix tells Bustle. "She is super encouraging and, for me, she’s that constant in my life. No matter if things are really great or are going really poorly, I know she’s always there for me." Felix finished Saturday's 400-meter semifinal race in just 49.67 seconds — good enough for a first place finish going into the finals race, which she was favored to win for her fifth Olympic gold.

Felix's road to Rio hasn't exactly been the smoothest ride since her dominant performance in the 2012 London Games, however. During the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Felix pulled up while flying around the bend of the 200-meter race with a hamstring injury. Her brother Wes carried her off of the track, and from there she began her nine month-long recovery. "My family and my friends helped me keep my mind off of it," Felix tells Bustle. "Their support and company, especially when therapy and recovery was so tedious, was definitely the thing that got me through it and was really great."

Family is obviously an extremely important part of Felix's life. In fact, her mom was one of the reasons Felix participated in this year's Thank You Mom campaign with sponsor Procter & Gamble, an emotional advertising campaign celebrating the strength and poise moms show and how that can bolster a young athlete's confidence. "No matter what happens, I can always call her and know she’ll be there for me, will always love me," Felix says. "It’s one of the reasons I love being a Bounty athlete and working with P&G and the Thank You Mom campaign — because my mom has always been there for me and she deserves to be honored and celebrated for her strength."

And if you're curious, Felix's medals live at her parents' home in Santa Clarita. "They like to show them off when people come over because they’re so proud."

At 30 years old, Felix also has some of her own wisdom to share with up-and-coming athletes. She advises them "to be patient and to go after their passions and their dreams with all they have. Sometimes, we can all get so focused on end results, but it’s really about growing with your journey while you pursue your dreams." Another pro tip? Felix cites Beyoncé's "Diva" as one of her favorite pre-race tracks, in case you are looking for a way to get motivated.

And what about Rio? The excitement of being right in the middle of the international sports community at the Olympics hasn't lost its magic for Felix, from Athens to Beijing to London. "I love seeing the mix of athletes," Felix says. "It’s really cool to be in a place where you’re altogether. It’s so rare to be in one space with all different athletes from all different countries and sports — it’s the only place like it." And if a genie appeared and told Felix that she could be elite in any Olympic sport other than sprinting, Felix says she'd choose gymnastics. She explained, "I'm obsessed with it!"

No matter what happens in Rio as Felix makes another (literal) run for the gold, one thing is certain — her family will be cheering her on from the stands.

Images: Getty Images; Courtesy of Allyson Felix (2)