“I left without a trophy” after a tie with Lia Thomas

Riley Gaines: ‘I left without a trophy’ after tie with Lia Thomas

In the 200 freestyle final at the NCAA women’s championships last week, Kentucky seniors Riley Gaines tied for fifth with Penn’s Lia Thomas, the transgender swimmer who was the center of attention at the competition because she was allowed to compete against cisgender women under NCAA rules. Thomas was the NCAA champion in the 500 freestyle, and she was also favored to win the 200 freestyle, but she finished nearly a second and a half off her best time and more than two seconds off the race winner. . Taylor Ruck.

After that race, Thomas and Gaines shared the fifth-place podium, but Gaines said Thomas received the only fifth-place trophy for the event. Gaines said The daily thread that an NCAA representative told him, “Hey, I just want to let you know, we only have a fifth-place trophy, so yours will be coming in the mail. We went ahead and gave the fifth place trophy to Lia, but you can pose on the podium with the sixth place trophy.

Gaines said she argued with the official over why Thomas would get the trophy instead. Even though the two swimmers are tied, Thomas is listed ahead of Gaines on the official results page, indicating that Thomas touched ahead of Gaines by less than a hundredth (a margin too small to be absolutely certain).

“It was a little discouraging,” Gaines said, according to The daily thread. “It really was. I left the pool without a trophy. It didn’t matter, but that was the goal I had set myself all year.

Gaines added that she was upset that it seemed like the NCAA was prioritizing the transgender athlete over others. “It’s almost like they’re trying to support (transgender athletes) more than… 90-95% of the rest of the swimmers who are a bit disappointed and affected by the rules in place for Lia to swim,” he said. she declared. .

Although she was upset about the situation, Gaines made it clear that she was not personally upset with Thomas. “I fully support her and I fully support her transition and her swimming career and all that kind of stuff because there’s no doubt she’s working hard too, but she’s just playing by the rules that the NCAA has put in place. , and that’s the problem,” Gaines said.

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