Female Athlete Blasts NCAA for Failures to Protect Women's Sports

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Posted: Mar 21, 2022 7:15 AM
Female Athlete Blasts NCAA for Failures to Protect Women's Sports

Source: (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

In a new statement, Olympian and Virginia Tech athlete Reka Gyorgy is blasting the NCAA after she missed placement in the finals for the 500 meter freestyle last week. She came in 17th. The cutoff for finals was placement in the top 16. 

In a letter to NCAA officials, Gyorgy explained the current uneven playing field in women's sports as the rules continue to allow biological men to compete against biological women. 

"My name is Reka Gyorgy from Hungary. I am a 2016 Rio Olympian, represented Virginia Tech for the past 5 years, a 2 time ACC Champion, 2 time All-American and 3 time Honorable Mention All-American," Gyorgy wrote. "I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future. It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmer who are competing in the NCAA."

Thomas, previously known as Will Thomas, swam on the Penn men's team until 2020.

"With all due respect, I would like to address something that is a problem in our sport right now and hurting athletes, especially female swimmers. Everyone has heard and known about transgender, Lia Thomas, and her case including all the issues and concerns that her situation brought to our sport. 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 as woken up at 5am her entire life for morning practice. She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right. On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women," the letter continues. "The NCAA knew what was coming this past week. They knew opinions and minds will be divided and chose to do nothing."

Gyorgy's teammate explained the situation after the race at Georgia Tech last week.  

Gyorgy isn't the first female athlete to approach the NCAA about the issue, which they have ignored. 

For full context of her feelings and remarks on the situation, Gyorgy requested her letter be released in full. You can read the entire text below. 

Before you read any further, I’d like to ask that everyone who wants to disseminate my statement would agree to release my statement in full. I do not want any partial releases of my statement and do not with to make further comments.

Dear NCAA,

I would like to address this past week’s events and express my thoughts. First, I would like to remind everyone that I am a human being and that as a human being I experience feelings and emotions.

My name is Reka Gyorgy from Hungary. I am a 2016 Rio Olympian, represented Virginia Tech for the past 5 years, a 2 time ACC Champion, 2 time All-American and 3 time Honorable Mention All-American.

With all due respect, I would like to address something that is a problem in our sport right now and hurting athletes, especially female swimmers. Everyone has heard and known about transgender, Lia Thomas, and her case including all the issues and concerns that her situation brought to our sport. 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 as woken up at 5am her entire life for morning practice. She has sacrificed family vacations and holidays for a competition. She has pushed herself to the limit to be the best athlete she could be. She is doing what she is passionate about and deserves that right. On the other hand, I would like to critique the NCAA rules that allow her to compete against us, who are biologically women.

I’m writing this letter right now in hopes that the NCAA will open their eyes and change these rules in the future. It doesn’t promote our sport in a good way and I think it is disrespectful against the biologically female swimmer who are competing in the NCAA.

I swam the 500 freestyle at NCAA’s on March 17th, 2022 where I got 17th which means I did not make it back to the finals and was first alternate. I’m a 5th year senior. I have been top 16 and top 8 before and I know how much of a privilege it is to make finals at a meet this big. This is my last college meet ever and I feel frustrated. It feels like that final spot was taken away from be because of the NCAA’s decision to let someone who is not a biological female compete. I know you could say I had the opportunity to swim faster and make the top 16, but this situation make it a bit different and I can’t help but be angry or sad. It hurts me, my team and other women in the pool. One spot was taken away from the girl who got 9th in the 500 free and didn’t make it back to the A final preventing her from being an All-American. Every event that transgender athlete competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet.

The NCAA knew what was coming this past week. They knew opinions and minds will be divided and chose to do nothing. This week has been more about reporters, media and division in our sport than things like two women going under 21 seconds in the 50 freestyle, 3 women going under 50 seconds in the 100 butterfly and the first women IN HISTORY to go under 49 seconds in the 100 backstroke. Thursday was not a specific athlete’s fault. This is the result of the NCAA and their lack of interest in protecting their 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. Make the right changes for our sport and for a better future in swimming.

Thank you for reading, 

Reka Gyorgy, Virginia Tech swimmer

Editor's note: A tweet previously embedded in this story has been removed because it was not authored by Gyorgy.