Sanya Richards-Ross, the five-time Olympic medalist, reveals in her new memoir that she had an abortion two weeks before the 2008 Beijing Games, where she won gold with her American teammates in the 4x400-meter relay.
Richards-Ross wrote in Chasing Grace that the decision would "forever be a part" of her life, but that the choice seemed clear at the time.
"The culmination of a lifetime of work was right before me," the 32-year-old writes 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?"
She wrote that she made the decision with her then-fiance and current husband Aaron Ross, who played for the New York Giants and was in training camp at the time.
"He was there for me as much could be," she said in an interview with SI Now on Tuesday. "But it was something that we kind of never talked about. It was almost like, if we don't talk about it, it didn't happen. ... For so much of my relationship, I felt I experienced it by myself. And so when Ross and I finally dealt with it, I was able to see his hurt."
She also told SI Now that abortions are prevalent among women's track athletes.
Despite her gold medal, she wrote that she was disappointed in her third-place finish in the 400 meter race, which she thought she would win.
She later won gold in the 400 meter race in 2012.
Richards-Ross is currently expecting a child. She said she hopes that her opening up about the abortion will help others.
"I'm hoping that this will open up some discussions to helping especially a lot of young women who were in my situation not experience what I did," Richards-Ross said.