A transgender runner who won a bronze medal at the women’s 400m race at the World Para Athletics Championships is 18 years older than any of her competitors.
Valentina Petrillo’s victory meant that Fatima Ezzahra El-Idrissi missed out on taking home a medal during the competition for athletes who are visually impaired.
But the Italian runner, 49, received negative remarks from other athletes.
Mara Yamauchi, the third fastest British female marathon runner, told The Telegraph: “How many 49-year-olds would win medals at world level?”
Canada’s former Olympic head coach Peter Eriksen also described the winning as ‘shocking.’
But speaking to the BBC, Petrillo said: “Better to be a slow happy woman than a fast unhappy man. I don’t feel like I’m stealing anything from anyone.”
According to reports, Petrillo was 18 years older than any other runners within the race.
Gold medalist Mara Durand from Cuba is 31, silver medalist Perez Lopez from Venezuela is 25, and El-Edrissi is 27.
Petrillo, who was born with Stargardt disease, used to compete in men’s national races but transitioned in 2019.
After transitioning, the athlete won the 100, 200, and 400 meters women’s races in the Paralympic championship in Italy.
When Petrillo won a 200m women’s race earlier this year, Cristina Sanulli – who finished second – said: “We do not feel equal because Petrillo’s physical structure is male.
So we are not running at par.Although the personal path that Valentina has taken is respectable, athletically speaking it is not, and because of this we feel very discriminated against. ”
According to the guidelines of The World Para Athletics, ‘an athlete shall be eligible to compete in women’s competition if she is recognized as female by law.’
Petrillo’s wife supported the runner and they remain married. They live together with their children.
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