Lia Thomas has become the first-ever transgender NCAA champion after securing a win in the 500-yard freestyle.
On Thursday night, Thomas made history following her freestyle win in Georgia where she was crowned National Collegiate Athletic Association champion.
The 22-year-old professional swimmer, who became the face of the controversial debate surrounding transgender individuals in women’s sports, won Thursday’s race with an astounding time of 4 minutes and 33.24 seconds.
Following her victory in Atlanta, the UPenn athlete gave a defiant speech as she spoke to Olympian Elizabeth Beisel only to be greeted with complete silence from the crowd.
Asked by ESPN about her thoughts on the people’s response to her victory in the pool, Thomas said:
“I try to ignore it as much as I can, I try to focus on my swimming what I need to do to get ready for my races and I just try to block out everything else.
“It means the world to be here, to be with two of my best friend and teammates and be able to compete.”
While the Texas-born swimmer isn’t the first NCAA competitor, she has become the first transgender athlete to become a champion, raising countless eyebrows across the nation.
Among renowned athletes who voiced their opinion on the matter was tennis legend Martina Navratilova who suggested trans women should not be allowed to win titles when mixed in the same category as biological females.
“It’s not about excluding transgender women from winning ever. But it is about not allowing them to win when they were not anywhere near winning as men,” Navratilova, who was one of the first major female athletes to be openly gay, told News Nation.
She added: “But the solution perhaps for now is to swim in a lane; you can compete but you don’t get the medal. Because the rules are not correct. But right now, the rules are what they are. Maybe put an asterisk there.
“And in the future maybe there should be an open category for everyone, and then for biological females. So trans women can compete, but they’ll compete against men. And trans men have a choice.”
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