The day before Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross flew to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Games, she had an abortion.
In her new memoir, Chasing Grace: What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me About God and Life, Richards-Ross discussed her decision to undergo the medical procedure immediately before competing, saying that the pregnancy was completely unexpected.
“The culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me,” she wrote in the book. “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?”
At the time, Richards-Ross was engaged to football player Aaron Ross, who is now her husband. Ross was attending training camp when she went in for the procedure, so he wasn’t able to be there with her.
“Over the phone, we didn’t go into details,” Richards-Ross wrote about her conversation with Ross about having an abortion. “As if not saying it would alleviate some of the guilt and the shame.”
She said that she “always harbored some resentment toward Ross” because even though they were both involved, she felt abandoned in the decision.
“It was like by not saying anything, neither agreeing nor opposing, he kept his conscience clear, but it wasn’t fair. We were in it together,” she wrote.
Richards-Ross and her team ended up winning the gold medal in the 4-X-400-meter relay, and she took home the bronze in the individual 300-meter race. Today, she is pregnant again and excited at the prospect of being a mother.
“Many parts of our lives have felt like a fairy tale, but this is our biggest blessing yet,” the couple told People. “We are so excited to start a family and can’t wait to begin this new adventure!”