A college swimmer has called for competition rules to be changed after she believes a transgender swimmer stole her “spot in the final” of the championships. Hungary’s Reka Gyorgy, who attends Virginia Tech, was edged out of the final by Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer who was ranked in the mid-500s when competing with male swimmers but is now number one among women.
- Gyorgy stands with Lia Thomas but believes the NCAA should have handled things differently. In an open letter, Gyorgy, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics and is a two-time ACC champion, said that while she respects that Thomas has worked just as hard at the sport of swimming as female competitors, she shouldn’t be able to compete against biological females. “I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future. It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmer who are competing in the NCAA,” she wrote.
- She missed out on the finals by one spot, which is totally down to Thomas, Gyorgy believes. As she continued in the letter, Gyorgy said that as a fifth-year senior, she came in 17th in the 500 freestyle and was left frustrated by not making the finals. “It feels like that final spot was taken away from be because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete. I know you could say I had the opportunity to swim faster and make the top 16, but this situation makes it a bit different and I can’t help but be angry or sad. It hurts me, my team and other women in the pool,” she penned.
- Gyorgy insists it’s not just about her. In fact, it’s about all-female swimmers who may miss out on amazing opportunities because a transgender swimmer has an unfair advantage. “Every event that transgender athlete competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet,” she explained.
- She believes the NCAA should have stepped in to solve this issue before it became one. According to Gyorgy, the NCAA knew that this is a very divisive issue but “chose to do nothing.” And sadly, it meant that the event became more about Lia Thomas competing and winning as a transgender woman than it was about the accomplishments of the other swimmers. “This week has been more about reporters, media and division in our sport than things like two women going under 21 seconds in the 50 freestyle, 3 women going under 50 seconds in the 100 butterfly and the first women IN HISTORY to go under 49 seconds in the 100 backstroke,” she concluded. “Thursday was not a specific athlete’s fault. It is the result of the NCAA and their lack of interest in protecting their athletes. I ask that the NCAA takes time to think about all the other biological women in swimming, try to think how they would feel if they would be in our shoes. Make the right changes for our sport and for a better future in swimming.”
- Not everyone is against Thomas’s inclusion in elite women’s events. In Newsweek, Olympic silver medalist Erica Sullivan said she’s “proud to support” Thomas and her ins. “Like anyone else in this sport, Lia has trained diligently to get to where she is and has followed all of the rules and guidelines put before her. Like anyone else in this sport, Lia doesn’t win every time. And when she does, she deserves, like anyone else in this sport, to be celebrated for her hard-won success, not labeled a cheater simply because of her identity,” she wrote. “As a woman in sports, I can tell you that I know what the real threats to women’s sports are: sexual abuse and harassment, unequal pay and resources and a lack of women in leadership.”