The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Djeneba Aduayom for TIME
By Michelle Kwan
September 14, 2021 2:26 PM EDT

I met Allyson Felix when we were both appointed by President Obama to be members of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition. We hit it right off, and through our work on the council we became fast friends.

She’s said that she hopes to compete with character and humility, knowing that her daughter and generations of young girls and boys are watching her. She’s thoughtful, generous and knows she has the responsibility of being a role model for girls and boys who look up to her. I think Allyson sets an extraordinary example as a mother, as a woman and as an athlete. She has already paved the way in so many areas, including fighting for new maternity policies that will help the next generation of mothers and athletes. That will have a ripple effect that goes on forever. She is passing on the baton to the next generation, and it was great to see that in front of your eyes in the 4 × 400-m relay in Tokyo, where she and the team took home the gold. That medal made Allyson the most decorated U.S. track-and-field athlete of all time.

I anticipate and expect that she will continue to follow her heart to do great things, some of which will probably be more meaningful than what she has accomplished in sports, as incredible as those feats and those medals are. This is just the beginning for her.

Kwan is a two-time Olympic medalist and a five-time world-champion figure skater

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