New Cameras Cause Major Issues at the World Athletics Championships—but Black Mothers Emerge Victorious

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica celebrates with her son Zyon after winning the Women’s 100 Metres final during day three of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on Sept. 29, 2019, in Doha, Qatar.
Photo: Richard Heathcote (Getty Images)

Well, this seems like a foreseeable flaw: In a quest to “provide innovative angles on the competition,” during the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, for the first time, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) installed starting block cameras for the track and field-based competition. Understandably, the new development made several female athletes uncomfortable, as it provided an upshot of their “intimate areas,” reports CNN.

“I, as a woman find that quite stupid,” German sprinter Gina Lückenkemper said in a statement released by her spokesperson after she and teammate Tatjana Pinto prompted the German Athletics Federation to complain to the IAAF. “I would doubt that a woman was part of the development of [the cameras],” she added.

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The IAAF has since agreed to censor the cameras, but seriously, who thought this was a good idea (since we’re pretty sure it would lead to overexposure of the male athletes, too)? Based on CNN’s reports of low attendance at the championships, our guess is that it was a desperate bid to attract a stronger television audience.

Jodie Williams of Great Britain, left, Crystal Emmanuel of Canada and Jamile Samuel of the Netherlands compete in the Women’s 200 Metres semifinal during day five of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on October 01, 2019 in Doha, Qatar.
Photo: Michael Steele (Getty Images)

But one of the significant drawbacks to low audience numbers is that few fans were aware of some major triumphs achieved during the championships, which continue through Oct. 6.

Among the most notable: with a 10.71-second run time, Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce snagged the victory in the women’s 100 meters final, further cementing her reputation as the fastest woman in the world. Notably, Fraser-Pryce’s victory came within two years of giving birth to her son, Zyon, whom she held in her arms as she celebrated her victory.

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“It’s a wonderful feeling having my son witnessing this,” said the rainbow-haired Fraser-Pryce, who explained her colorful look to CNN.

“I needed something sweet, Doha is already hot. I got my unicorns. They say unicorns are something you never see but here I am,” she said.

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Allyson Felix, another dynamic mother and 2019 Root 100 honoree, also emerged victorious at Doha. Scoring a win with the USA’s mixed-gender 4x400m relay team, Felix added a twelfth gold medal to her already impressive trophy case, further adding to the distinction of winning the most gold medals in championship history.

Like teammate Alysia Montaño, Felix is a mother who spoke out earlier this year about discriminatory maternity policies instituted by major athletic brands—like her former sponsor, Nike—that financially penalized pregnant and post-partum female athletes. Their bravery prompted Nike and other brands to adapt their sponsorship contracts, protecting athlete’s finances for 18 months through pregnancy and early motherhood.

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Felix (now sponsored by women’s athletic brand Athleta) and Fraser-Pryce’s wins further reinforce the fact that motherhood need not be a liability for female athletes, as both are clearly still at the top of their game. As Felix, whose daughter Camryn was also in the stadium to watch Mommy take home the gold, wrote on Instagram:

“This one is for all my baby mamas.”

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.