VA swimmer, former Olympian blasts NCAA for transgender policy after loss

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News

 

A Virginia Tech swimmer slammed the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) over its rule allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports, further turning up the dial on an issue that has already received intense scrutiny. Reka Gyorgy made the remark in an open letter to the organization after she was edged out of the cut for the 500 free finals at the NCAA Championships by UPenn transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, as reported by Swimming World.

“It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmers who are competing in the NCAA,” Gyorgy wrote of the controversial rule allowing biological males like Thomas to compete as transgender women against female athletes. Thomas shattered records in women’s competitive swimming in his first season competing as a transgender woman at the college level. 

Gyorgy said she felt she was robbed of her opportunity to compete in the final “because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete” and is calling on the organization to amend its rule.

After knocking Gyorgy out of the prelims, Thomas handily defeated Virginia freshman and 2020 Olympian, Emma Weyant, to take home the championship title on Thursday with a time of 4:33.24, the fastest of the NCAA season.

Gyorgy said her stance is not directed at Thomas, but rather against the NCAA’s regulation forcing female swimmers to compete against men.

“I’d like to point out that I respect and fully stand with Lia Thomas; I am convinced that she is no different than me or any other D1 swimmer who has woken up at 5 a.m. her entire life for morning practice,” wrote Gyorgy. “On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women,” she said.

Gyorgy has swam for the Virginia Tech Hokies for the past five years. The two-time NCAA champion and two-time All-American swimmer also represented her home country of Hungary in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

“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,” Gyorgy continued. “It hurts me, my team and other women in the pool. Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet.”

Gyorgy also accused the NCAA for failing to protect its 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,” she challenged. “Make the right changes for our sport and for a better future in swimming.” 

Soon after the letter was released, social media users took to Twitter to voice support for Gyorgy.

“Reka has been excluded to pamper a male athlete; this must stop!” one user tweeted.

“She was robbed” wrote former Trump administration Deputy Assistant and Hungarian-American Sebastian Gorka succinctly. 

“The NCAA let [Gyorgy] down,” said Shukri Abdirahman, who is running against Ilhan Omar for Congress, adding, “We need to steer the ship back on path.”

According to Save Women’s Sports, a bipartisan coalition advocating for the preservation of women’s sports, 76 biological males have been allowed to compete against biological females across a variety of competitive sports in recent years.

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