Track Star and Olympic Gold Medalist Sanya Richards-Ross Opens Up About Her Abortion

We’re used to seeing track star Sanya Richards-Ross running at the speed of light and bringing home accolades. What many don’t know is the now-retired athlete made the decision to have an abortion the day before she was to leave to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Richards-Ross is opening up about this time in her life in her memoir, Chasing Grace. At the time, she was engaged to her now-husband, Aaron Ross, who played for the New York Giants. The couple made the decision to have the abortion together. The choice stemmed from Richards-Ross not wanting to let down her sponsors, family and church by having a child out of wedlock.

In her memoir, the athlete writes, “I made a decision that broke me. And one from which I would not immediately heal. Abortion would now forever be a part of my life.”

While competing in the 2008 Olympics, Richards-Ross gold in the women’s 4×100 relay and bronze in the 400-meter dash.

Like many women who have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, she struggled with it afterward.

Richards-Ross told the Newsworth and Norsworthy podcast, “I literally prayed about [revealing it] for almost two years because it is something that is really private, and a lot of women don’t talk about it. It wasn’t an easy story to share. But ultimately, I did it to glorify God and to tell people that you can come back from any decision, no matter how hard it is to make.”

Richards-Ross and her husband married in 2010, and they are now expecting a baby boy.

The three-time Olympian told Sports Illustrated Now that abortions aren’t exactly uncommon in the track world.

“I literally don’t know another female track athlete who hasn’t had an abortion, and that’s sad,” she said.

She believes abortions are common among female track athletes because of the myth that taking birth control pills will slow them down or cause water weight gain.

Richards-Ross went on to say, “And then people tell you that when you’re extremely fit you can’t get pregnant because our cycles are shorter. So there’s a lot of miseducation that happens to young women.”

She hopes by sharing this part of her life, she’ll be able to open up the conversation on abortion in the track and field world.

“For me, I’m hoping that this will open up some discussions, especially in helping a lot of young women who are in my situation not experience what I did.”