To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Swimmer Who Tied With Lia Thomas Slams Officials

Swimmer Who Tied With Lia Thomas Slams Officials

Riley Gaines said the problem isn't Thomas - it's the NCAA's rules

A Kentucky swimmer who tied with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has slammed officials after she wasn't given a trophy.

Thomas has been the subject of controversy in recent months. Three years prior to transitioning, she competed on the men's swimming team, but she's since joined the University of Pennsylvania’s women's team, with her dominance sparking debate about eligibility.

Explaining why she competes in women's sports, she said: "I am not a man. I'm a woman – so I belong on the women's team."

Riley Gaines tied with Thomas for fifth place in the 200-yard freestyle NCAA swimming championships.

Speaking with Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn on her podcast Unmuted with Marsha, Gaines said: "I touched the wall and saw there was a five by my name indicating that I got fifth… I also looked up, and I saw the number five by Lia's name and so, in that moment, I realised we tied.

"It was kind of like a flood of emotions. I was extremely happy for the girls above me who conquered what was seemingly impossible by beating Lia... I was shocked, really."

When Gaines went to get her trophy, she was told they only had one and it would be given to Thomas, to which she told the official: "This is the women's 200-yard freestyle, and Lia won a national title last night, and I have worked every day for the past four years for this."

She told Blackburn: "I don't think a lot of people realise, but only the top one percent of, you know, female college athletes make it to this meet.

"That, in and of itself, is a huge deal, but you have to fight for every point there, and I was kind of just frustrated with how it was handled and how they kind of addressed me."

Lia Thomas competing back in January.

Thomas recently won the women's 500-yard freestyle event at a competition in Georgia last week, making her the first transgender woman in history to become a NCAA champion.

While data shows she doesn't necessarily have an advantage over her cisgender competitors, and she swam within NCAA guidelines, there have been calls from Caitlyn Jenner and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to change the rules further.

Speaking to the Kentucky Kernel, Gaines also stressed her grievances aren't with Thomas – they're with the rules.

"It is hard because you don't want to say something to where people call you transphobic or anything like that, because that's not what the problem is," she said.

"Lia and her transition and her swimming career is not the issue that is making so many of us NCAA swimmers upset. It's the rules put in place. So there's such a fine line when you're talking about it."

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Featured Image Credit: riley.gaines/Instagram/Alamy

Topics: Sport, LGBTQ, US News