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Lia Thomas Becomes First Trans Athlete to Win Division I National Title In America

Lia Thomas Becomes First Trans Athlete to Win Division I National Title In America

However, her victory elicited an extremely polarising reaction, as many were silent, some booed and others politely clapped.

Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has won the 500-yard freestyle event at the US collegiate championships in Atlanta.

The University of Pennsylvania swimmer became the first transgender athlete to win a National Collegiate Athletic Association first place title with a time of 4 minutes 33:24.

The 22-year-old absolutely blasted her competition and hit the wall more than a second-and-a-half ahead of Emma Weyant, who finished in 4:34.99.

Erica Sullivan, a silver medallist in the 1500m at the Tokyo Olympics last year, came third with a time of 4 minutes 35:92.

Despite the big win, Thomas’ victory elicited an extremely polarising reaction from the crowd, as many were silent; some politely clapped and others booed as she was given her medal on the podium.

After her victory, Thomas told Former Olympian and ESPN reporter Elizabeth Beisel, that she tries her best to ‘ignore’ her critics and her controversy.

"I try to ignore it as much as I can, I try to focus on my swimming and what I need to do to get ready for my races and I just try to block out everything else," she said.

"It means the world to be here, to be with two of my best friend and teammates and be able to compete."

One of her teammates, who spoke to Fox News Digital on the condition her identity would be confidential over fears of disqualification, said that Thomas’ eligibility in women’s events has 'completely ruined the integrity of the sport'.   

She also added that Thomas’ victories against other women athletes were a given due to her biological advantage.

"It's its own distinct category because no woman is going to be as fast as a man, and here, is just completely - we're just throwing away the definition of a record to fit into someone else's agenda of what it should mean to them," she said.

Earlier this year, USA Swimming proposed a new policy that stated trans women must have recorded low testosterone levels for 36 months to compete.

Lia Thomas competing in the 1000 yard freestyle in January.
Sukhmani Kaur/Sipa USA

Thomas had already applied for the championship despite only receiving 34 months of treatment at the time, leaving her fate up in the air.

But, the NCAA subcommittee said weeks later the policy of testosterone guidance wouldn’t be changed, which allowed Thomas to compete.

They wrote in a statement: "Implementing additional changes at this time could have unfair and potentially detrimental impacts on schools and student-athletes intending to compete in 2022 NCAA women's swimming championships."

However, the NCAA subcommittee went on to say the proposed policy and ongoing debate about the future of transgender athletes ‘will be part of the subcommittee’s future analysis when recommending additional updates to eligibility requirements’.

Featured Image Credit: ESPN. Sukhmani Kaur/Sipa USA.

Topics: News, Sport