Olympic gold medalist says abortions among female athletes are more common than you think

Two weeks before the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games, Sanya Richards-Ross had an abortion. She wrote in her just-released memoir, Chasing Grace, that after spending a lifetime training for that moment in her life and with thoughts of the potential shame of having a child out of wedlock bouncing around her head, it seemed like no choice at all to undergo the abortion.

But Richards-Ross, who won a gold medal that year in the 4×400 meter relay and later struck gold in the 400-meter race in 2012, says she isnt alone. In fact, she recently told Sports Illustratedthat abortions are more common in track and field than you might think.

The truth is that its an issue thats not really talked about in the sport, Richards-Ross said. A lot of young woman have experienced this. I literally dont know anther female track and field athlete who hasnt had an abortion. And thats sad.

Part of the reason she revealed her abortion, Richards-Ross said, is because she wanted to help other young women who might be in a similar situation. Especially if a young woman isnt comfortable talking to her mother or female relatives about these kind of scenarios.

A lot of the information you get is from your peers, said Richards-Ross, whos now 32 years old and pregnant. Its going to sound silly to some people, but in our community, people dont want to take the pill, because you put water weight on. As an athlete, you want to stay as fit and healthy as possible.

Richards-Ross also said theres plenty of misinformation in her community, because some elite athletes think they cant get pregnant because their menstrual cycles are shorter or nonexistent. But even more than the physical toll she underwent to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Gamesafter her abortion, Richards-Ross ignored doctors orders not to run for 14 daysshe wanted to write about her mental well-being at the time.

It was more for me about the spiritual and emotional part of the experience that I wanted to share, Richards-Ross said. It wasnt until even I started this journey that I uncovered some of the hurt that was still there and trying to forgive myself. I knew that God had forgiven me for it, but really forgiving myself for this choice and really moving on. Now that Im going to be a mother, I needed to purge myself of this and help others do the same.

Richards-Ross is also sharing her happiness with her pregnancy and her new body on Instagram. As you can see below.

#SRRBellyUpdate….. 30 weeks of love, anticipation and excitement! Can't wait to meet you #BabyBoyRoss #BabyRoss #FirstTimeMommy

A post shared by Sanya Richards-Ross (@sanyarichiross) on

Our DEUCEY is on the way….. #AJRII #BabyBoyRoss #BabyShower

A post shared by Sanya Richards-Ross (@sanyarichiross) on

H/T the Cut

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