“You can live your life and it doesn’t have to be (that) you have to put your life on hold,” says Adeline Gray
By Amy Tennery | File photo by Leah Millis/Reuters
New York (Reuters) – Six-time world champion freestyle wrestler Adeline Gray says there is more work to be done to support working moms at the highest level of elite sport, as the American pursues another Olympic dream after having twins.
Gray won bronze in the 76-kilo division at last month’s World Wrestling Championships, a US record-tying ninth overall medal that was made all the more sweet as it came 14 months after giving birth.
“It’s actually the first bronze medal I haven’t left really upset about,” said Gray, who had to wait five months to return to the gym after delivering twins in July 2022.
“Four months later, I did my first competition. Six months later, was making the world team. And when I made the world team, I was like, ‘Oh gosh, what did I just do?’,” she added.
“Thank goodness I’ve done 10 of them because I think for someone who would be new to this world, this would have been too much.”
The Women’s World Cup this summer brought a renewed spotlight on the challenges of being an athlete mother at the highest level of sport, with three moms on the US national team.
“Women in sport don’t have to just have this be something they do in their early 20s,” Adeline Gray said. “You can live your life and it doesn’t have to be (that) you have to put your life on hold”
Gray, a Tokyo silver medalist, said more support is needed.
“The women on the World Cup circuit and myself got support,” said Gray, a Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) Child Care Grant recipient who attended the organization’s recent gala, where they provided a Childcare Zone for athletes who are mothers.
“There’s so many pieces to be able to have your kid with you while you’re training and competing that you have to have that extra arm.”
Gray, who has earned a bye through to the finals in the 76-kilo division of next year’s US Olympic trials, would compete scarcely more than two years to the day she gave birth if she books her ticket to the Paris Games.
She hopes her journey can inspire other athletes across the Olympic landscape.
“Women in sport don’t have to just have this be something they do in their early 20s,” Gray said. “You can live your life and it doesn’t have to be (that) you have to put your life on hold.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Christian Radnedge)