Olympian Alysia Montano competed in the 800-meter race at the U.S. Championships Thursday, merely six weeks before she is due to give birth to her first child, NBC Sports reports.
Montano’s time of 2 minutes, 32.13 seconds put her in last place, but winning the heat wasn’t her ultimate goal.
The five-time U.S. outdoor champion had a previous qualifying time that allowed her to enter the race, and she decided to run it both for herself and for pregnant women.
“We see so many people in different avenues in their life start their family, and it looks so different than it does for a professional athlete, especially for a professional athlete woman,” explained Montano. “You’ve seen [four-time Olympic middle distance runner] Bernard Lagat have two kids, and we don’t see the other side of it. This is what it looks like to be a professional athlete as a woman.”
Montano’s doctor and midwife both endorsed her decision to race.
“That took away any fear of what the outside world might think about a woman running in pregnancy or exercise in general,” said Montano. “What I found out mostly was that exercising and maintaining during pregnancy is actually much better for the mom and the baby.”
Still, some social media users have raised questions about the potential risks of Montano’s run.
The crowd at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium, on the other hand, showed the Olympian unified support by giving her a standing ovation.