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Riley Gaines, the Kentucky swimmer who tied transgender swimmer Lia Thomas for fifth in the women’s 200-meter NCAA championships last month, still does not have her trophy.

Gaines appeared on Senator Marsha Blackburn’s “Unmuted” podcast last week, and recounted what happened when she tied Thomas.

“I touched the wall and saw that there was a five by my name, indicating that I got fifth, but the first thing I really looked at was who won because I was so curious who would win the race,” Gaines said. “Because, the night before, Lia won the 500-meter. So, more interested than my own self, I was interested in who won. I looked up and I also saw a No. 5 by Lia’s name so in that moment I realized we tied.

“It was a flood of emotions, really. I was extremely happy for the girls above me who conquered what was seemingly impossible by beating Lia, and it was kind of an array of emotions. I was shocked, really.”

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Blackburn asked Gaines if she had her trophy yet.

“No I do not,” she said. “That’s another crazy thing. Once I got out of the water, we kind of go behind the podium to the awards ceremony where they distribute the trophies. So, I walked back there and the NCAA official came up to me and said, ‘Hey, we only have one fifth place trophy’ — which I understood.

“But he said, ‘We’re gonna have to give that trophy to Lia. Yours will be coming in the mail. Great job.’ I was kind of taken aback. I don’t think he necessarily expected me to really question it, but I was like, ‘Okay, I understand, but can I ask why you’re choosing to give the trophy to Lia?’”

Gaines claims that the NCAA official responded, “Well, we’re just giving the trophies out in chronological order.”

Lia Thomas
According to Gaines. Thomas was given a trophy for their tie, but she has yet to receive hers.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This was not a sufficient answer to Gaines, whose father, Brad Gaines, was a star fullback at Vanderbilt.

“So then, I was thinking, ‘Chronological order. We just tied. I don’t really know what we’re being chronological about. So can you explain?’ He kind of just looked at me and said, ‘We have to give the trophy to Lia but we respect and admire you so much.’ Gaines said.

“So at this point he basically admitted to me that the NCAA was trying to save face. I don’t think they handled this properly, but I don’t think they were prepared to handle this kind of situation. They were faced with something they were unsure what to do with.”

Gaines added that following her conversation with the official, she was unsatisfied with the NCAA’s response.

“At this point, I was really frustrated, and I said to them, ‘This is the women’s 200-yard freestyle, Lia won a national title last night, and I worked every day of the last four years for this.’ Which, not saying that Lia or any of the other swimmers there hadn’t, because it’s such a big deal to get to that point,” Gaines said. “Only the top one percent of college athletes make it to this meet. You have to fight for every point. I was frustrated with how this was handled and how they addressed me.”

Riley Gaines
Gaines encouraged high school athletes to use their voice.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Blackburn asked Gaines what words of encouragement she would give high school athletes.

“The thing I’ve learned the most throughout all of this is to use your voice,” Gaines answered. “Before I said anything publicly a couple weeks ago, with myself being the first or second to protest this, I have realized there are so many girls who feel the exact same way as I do but are told they can’t say anything, or they’re scared because today’s culture is ‘cancel culture’ and they don’t want to risk their future in athletics or future career. There are so many things that can be taken down with it.

“But what I’ve realized is if we want a change, you have to use your voice. We have to let people know as a group that a majority of us female athletes — or females in general — are not okay with this. We’re not okay with the trajectory of how this is going or how it could end up in a couple years.”

Source: NYPOST

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