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Cadenshae, the Kiwi activewear specialist for pregnant and breastfeeding mums, has announced a formal partnership with new US non-profit ‘&Mother’.

Together, the organisations will help support three US Olympic hopefuls get to Tokyo in July.

&Mother, co-founded by former US Olympian Alysia Montaño (who Cadenshae sponsors personally), is a non-profit dedicated to breaking barriers limiting a woman’s choice to pursue and thrive in both career and motherhood — starting with professional athletes. The Kiwi maternity brand, now officially a Founding Partner of &Mother, will provide the following athletes with specialised elite sportswear, as well as donate financial contributions to go towards training, travel and family support for the 2021 US Olympic Trials, and then, all going well – the 2021 Olympic Games.

Dawn Harper-Nelson (pictured) competes in the 100m hurdles and won gold in the event in Beijing in 2008 before claiming the silver in London in 2012. Harper-Nelson is mother to Harper Renee Nelson, born April 2019.

Sara Vaughn is a middle-distance runner who specialises in the 1500m and a mother of four. One of her most recent successes was placing third at the US Outdoor Track and Field Championships in California in 2017.

Olicia Williams, mother to a three-year-old, will be competing in the 800m at the US Olympic trials, and possibly the 1500m.

Cadenshae Founder Nikki Clarke says she felt compelled to support the &Mother cause and their athletes. “Cadenshae inherently recognises the value and importance of supporting mothers and everything they choose to do. We’ve always campaigned that women do not have to choose a career or motherhood. They should be able to thrive in both areas, given the right support.”

During the peak of her career in 2013, Montaño discovered brands weren’t always so on board with motherhood, as her then sponsor Nike said they would cease her pay if she fell pregnant, which she soon did. Months later, the 6 x 800m US champion was picked up by Asics and promised maternity coverage for the future. But, following the birth of her daughter (Linnéa) in 2014 – and after a change of management – Montaño’s contract was cut due to her performances whilst pregnant.

Montaño’s treatment became the catalyst for a movement to find companies who support female professional athletes in pregnancy, and beyond. “After my awful experiences, I’ve been on a mission to find companies who will back and showcase the ‘whole person,’ not just the athlete,” says Montaño. “Cadenshae is one of these trailblazing businesses, also Altra, Athleta, Nuun Hydration, Oiselle…but we need more. We want to show the world we can excel as athletes AND as mothers.”

Nikki Clarke says Cadenshae and &Mother are clearly mission-aligned. “We’re honoured to be part of &Mother’s movement that aims to break glass ceilings for the generations to come. Young women across the globe will see these athletes chasing down their dreams, and realise it’s truly possible to have it all.”

Montaño says things are moving in the right direction, but there’s still much that needs to be done. “We’ve lit the match, but the fire is yet to roar. We need other brands, other companies to sponsor female professional athletes for their whole career…not just the times that best serve them. With Cadenshae’s help, we can support three strong &Mother athletes, to continue showing the world how mums CAN get back to business when given the opportunity. Organisations need to see and accept that it’s possible.”

As for the athletes, Harper-Nelson says she’s beyond excited for the challenges ahead. “I know I speak for myself, Sara and Olicia when I say every day of our training is about putting in our very best to give us the greatest chance at the Olympic trials to make the Olympic team. The blessing in all of this is not only are we pursuing our dreams but in doing so, we are able to create more exposure for the cause.”

The 2021 US Olympic Trials are to be held in Eugene, Oregon in June 18-27 – Covid-19 depending. The 2021 Olympic Games are set to begin on July 23, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan – again, Covid-19 dependent.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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