THE image of swimmer Lia Thomas, standing alone and ostracised on that podium, was heart-breaking.
As her beaten trio of rivals huddled together, and boos rang out, Lia looked like a broken — and beaten — woman despite her victory in the 500- yards freestyle at America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) event.
The image of swimmer Lia Thomas, standing alone and ostracised on that podium, was heart-breakingCredit: Reuters
The 22-year-old American could now qualify for the 2024 Olympics, meaning the whole “Lia Thomas issue” becomes global.
Whatever transphobes say, however many times they call her a “he”, mock her towering 6ft 3in frame and broad shoulders, Lia is a woman.
But one with significantly more muscle mass, better oxygen uptake, greater bone density.
For the past 12 months, as stipulated by NCAA rules, she’s been taking testosterone-suppression medication. Her oestrogen levels will have increased, her hips will have got rounder and she will have added body fat. (Yeah, it’s GREAT being a woman.)
But no amount of drugs can shrink her paddle-like hands or feet, or magically make her 5ft 9in. This will never be a level playing field. Or, rather, swimming pool.
Our own former Olympic silver medallist Sharron Davies, as well as nine-time Wimbledon singles champ Martina Navratilova and Caitlyn Jenner, arguably the highest-profile trans woman and an Olympic gold medal decathlete — have each slammed the rules.
All have been branded Terfs — trans-exclusionary radical feminists — and attacked by armchair fans.
Armchair fans, with a BMI of 46, who probably haven’t given up years of their lives training and competing at the highest levels.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and to express it.
But in the culture wars, as every Thomasina, Dick and Harry shout over one another, everyone is an expert.
Over the past two decades thousands of dedicated men and women behind the scenes have been working tirelessly to promote women’s sports.
To improve visibility, to boost facilities and to offer greater opportunity at grassroots level.
Women’s football, especially, has never been so popular — and while financial parity looks a long way off, our Lionesses are now lionised.
The trans issue threatens to derail years of progress.
What if Jack Grealish comes out as “Jackie”? Will she be playing in the Women’s Champions League in 2025?
Where will it end?
As Sharron pointed out, in contact sports there’s a “serious accident waiting to happen”.
Throughout my twenties I played football to a fairly decent level, in a league one below QPR.
We had a trans player, Claire. She was by far our strongest player. At 6ft 1n, she won every header, could boot a goal kick to the opposition 18-yard box and tackled — hard. She retired at 53. The next oldest player was 39.
Season after season, opposition teams wrote to the FA demanding she got banned.
Claire took the abuse stoically, and refused to quit because she loved being a part of something — a team, a group of girls. Something, as a child, she’d dreamt of but never thought tenable.
Trans athletes mustn’t feel discouraged from taking part in sport. They need “safe spaces” in which to play and train.
But so must women’s sport be protected.
Until the science is indisputable, we should have men’s, women’s and, perhaps, an “open” section. The playing fields must be levelled.
Lia is the tip of the iceberg. Governing bodies must act now to prevent a complete meltdown.
David’s doing his bit
SOME people can never win.
David Cameron has just driven to Poland in a lorry to deliver supplies to Ukrainian refugees.
The #bekind mob sneered at David Cameron for volunteering at a local food project helping low-income familiesCredit: TWITTER/DAVID CAMERON
Forty-eight hours earlier, the former PM posted a photo of him volunteering at a local food project – one helping low-income families – which he’s quietly been doing for the past two years.
“Low-income families are just crying out for butternut squash and shallots”, sneered the #bekind mob.
Others remarked on the borlotti beans, and radishes.
I’m fairly sure those knocking him haven’t been helping their local communities, let alone flogging 1,500 miles in a truck delivering nappies.
Short of running into a burning Kyiv orphanage and single-handedly plucking out child after child, I’m not sure what more the man can do.
Oh, be fair to Sara!
FIRST, they came for our comedians. Then, our TV shows and films.
Now, the Humour Police are gunning for off-the-cuff quips.
Poor Sara Cox is the latest victim, after joyless Radio 2 listeners accused her of slandering fairgrounds.
After the DJ quipped, “That’s the thing with smaller local fairs, their rollercoaster rides are held together by rusty screws, Blu Tack and crossed fingers”, all hell broke loose.
Quicker than you can say “ferris wheel”, Twitter was deluged.
“Every piece of fairground equipment cannot operate without a yearly test carried out by an ADIPS inspector,” explained one little ray of sunshine.
Another bundle of joy chipped in: “Think a very public apology is needed for your slandering and incorrect information made about fairgrounds.”
And so it continued.
When will the madness end?
Is that Boris . . . or the Honey Monster?
ON the one hand, I’d hate to knock a man for trying to get fit.
On the other, Boris Johnson really doesn’t help himself.
The PM had his official photographer snap him as he ran, in the loosest sense of the word, along Blackpool beachCredit: Andrew Parsons / CCHQ Parsons Media
In a PR stunt that backfired spectacularly, the PM had his official photographer snap him as he ran, in the loosest sense of the word, along Blackpool beach.
Clearly hoping the Great British public would see a sporty, virile, highly electable streak of lightning, a veritable Adonis bolting along the sand dunes, instead people saw what looked like the Honey Monster trundling past.
Still, God loves a trier.
Thrills ‘n’ Kate
KATE MIDDLETON kindly provided a public relations tap-in for sub-editors across the globe.
“The Duchess shakes her maracas”, squealed the headlines, as she enthusiastically rattled her pair.
Given the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s tour of Belize got off to such a shaky start – with village locals accusing them of colonialism – such route one PR is a no-brainer.
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