Aliphine Tuliamuk is an U.S. Olympic marathoner who did not expect to be a new mom during this year’s Olympic games, let alone struggle to bring her infant daughter to the games.
In February 2020, Tulimuk won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials but due to the coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed.
And as a result, Tuliamuk and her fiancé, Tim Gannon, decided the time off would be perfect to try for a baby. And in January of this past year, Tuliamuk, 32, gave birth to their daughter, Zoe.
“I’ve always wanted to be a mom and I’ve also wanted to become an Olympian and compete at the highest level of our sport,” Tuliamuk told Good Morning America. “I never thought I was going to be at the Olympics as a new mom.”
“That would not have happened until 2020 happened,” she said. And so, in March, Tuliamuk began training again, just two months after Zoe was born.
But Tuliamuk’s road to the Olympics was almost sidelined this summer when she discovered that, due to COVID-19-related restrictions, athletes’ family members would not be able to join them in Tokyo, including Zoe.
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“When they put restrictions in and sent us an email that she wasn’t going to be able to come, I was really devastated,” she said. “What do they expect us to do? I can’t just leave my breastfeeding child behind.”
Tuliamuk outwardly criticized the restriction and also sent a letter to the head of the International Olympic Committee. And thankfully, earlier this month, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee reversed course and said nursing mothers should be allowed to bring their children with them to the games.
“After careful consideration of the unique situation facing athletes with nursing children, we are pleased to confirm that, when necessary, nursing children will be able to accompany athletes to Japan,” the committee said in a statement obtained by ABC News.
Tuliamuk confirmed that she will now be able to bring Zoe with her to the Olympics. Also traveling with them will be Gannon, who is permitted to accompany Tuliamuk to the Olympics as her personal coach. The women’s marathon is scheduled to be held in Sapporo on Aug. 7, the day before the closing ceremony.
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“I’m just full of gratitude,” she told “GMA.” “I cannot wait to go to Sapporo and have an amazing race and race for myself, race for my teammates and my sponsors, my family and my daughter.”
Tuliamuk said she was wanted to fight for Zoe to be with her because she said she knows that “mom athletes can compete at the highest level of sport.”
“If we want to support female athletes, part of being a female athlete is also having a family and if you want to support me as a complete athlete, you should be able to make room for my family. You should be able to make room for me if I decide to have a family,” said Tuliamuk. “You can’t just talk about supporting women and then not actually support them.”
“I want to make sure my daughter understands that this world is not easy but that does not mean that you give up. It means that you double down and you work very, very hard and you seize every opportunity that you get,” she said. “That’s how you achieve your goals.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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