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An NCAA swimmer is speaking out about the agency’s actions after she tied transgender competitor Lia Thomas, a 22-year-old biological male, in the 200 freestyle at the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships.
Riley Gaines, a senior at the University of Kentucky, first revealed to The Daily Wire last month that after she tied Thomas for fifth place, an NCAA official told her she was not allowed to keep or pose with the fifth place trophy. The trophy was going to Thomas, and Gaines would get her prize “in the mail.”
Gaines spoke about the experience Wednesday night with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
“Me and Lia just recently tied at the NCAA Championships, and honestly, I think the NCAA handled everything extremely poorly,” the athlete told Carlson.
“When we finished and I went behind the podium to collect by fifth place trophy, they kind of blatantly told me that Lia would hold the fifth place trophy and that I could pose with the sixth place trophy for photos and I would be mailed a fifth place trophy in the mail,” she explained.
After questioning the official multiple times, Gaines told Carlson she was told, “We’re just gonna give the trophy to Lia. We respect and admire your swim, but Lia needs to hold the trophy.”
“I was shocked, and I know all the other swimmers who were standing by and listening to this were also shocked,” Gaines said. “And I was standing right next to Lia and she heard it all.”
When push came to shove, Gaines said the NCAA “protected such a small minority and turned their back on what the organization and Title IX really stand for.”
Riley Gaines, who tied with Lia Thomas in a recent swimming race, suggests that the NCAA is favoring Thomas. pic.twitter.com/cDzlS7K1Bz
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) April 7, 2022
A Virginia Tech swimmer last month spoke out about a teammate being brought to tears after she came in 17th place, missing the finals by one place, after she was bumped by Thomas.
“She was very emotional, and it’s hard to see because it’s her last NCAAs; she really loves that race, and it was just heartbreaking that she put all of her efforts into it today … one of the best times that’s she went in a morning session and still not make it back,” the swimmer said. “It’s hard to see someone who works every day and every night still not be able to compete against someone like that.”