Photo: Sun Sentinal
The struggle between career and family can be a tough one especially for women at the peak of success in their goals and aspirations. Five time Olympian Sanya Richard-Ross speaks on her own internal struggle in this area with her new memoir Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile has taught me about God and Life where she reveals that she and then fiancé (now husband) Aaron Ross made the difficult decision to have an abortion weeks before her participating in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.
In 2008 the engaged couple were at the beginning of stardom in their respective sports careers — she a runner with eyes on Olympic Gold and him a cornerback for the New York Giants when hit with the harrowing reality of being pregnant. She states “Everything I ever wanted seemed to be within reach, the culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me. In that moment, it seemed like no choice at all. The debate of when life begins swirled through my head, and the veil of a child out of wedlock at the prime of my career seemed unbearable. What would my sponsors, my family, my church, and my fans think of me?”
The choice although difficult seemed to be the only choice at all. Alone (Ross fiancé was away at training camp) the procedure was done “quickly” but the internal scars would take much longer to heal. “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. A scarlet letter I never thought I’d wear.” Going against doctor’s orders Ross boarded a plane to Beijing the next day and began training for the 300meter race. Slated to win first place she came in 3rd after catching a cramp in her hamstrings. It became her toughest year with her feeling “broken… physically and emotionally.”
With 2009 came one of her most triumphant years as a runner winning World Outdoor Gold for the 3rd time and being named IAAF World Athlete of the Year. When asked by ESPN why she chose to include her abortion in her memoir she stated: “The name of the book is called ‘Chasing Grace.’ Chasing is something I’ve been doing all my life… I’m chasing gold medals; I’m chasing records, and chasing the best version of myself. So, for me, if I didn’t share the toughest moment in my life where I felt God’s grace the most, it would be disingenuous to this journey. I think there are lots of young girls who experience this, especially female athletes. I look forward to having more discussions about it and helping young women heal from it.”
In February, the couple announced exclusively with PEOPLE magazine that they were expecting. Through prayer and communication, she and her husband have gotten stronger and her book relishes in that. She explained “This book is my personal anthem and I hope readers realize they have greatness within to outlast the challenging stretches of every journey…I hope to encourage people to stay the course and achieve their highest potential.”
The book Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile has taught me about God and Life is available today in electronic and hard copy wherever books are sold.