History-making trans track star Nikki Hiltz is headed to the Olympics

Nikki Hiltz, an American national champion middle distance runner who is trans and nonbinary, has prevailed in the US Olympic Trials, earning a place at the summer Paris games. In addition to an Olympics qualification, they clocked in with second fastest time in the women’s 1500-meter race.

On June 30, Hiltz set a new trial record, finishing ahead of competitors Elle St Pierre and Emily Mackay in the last 60 meters of the race with a final time of 3:55:33. All three have qualified for the Olympics, and the top eight competitors scored a personal best time.

Hiltz credited their competitors with pushing them. “Elle St Pierre has elevated women’s distance running,” they told NBC Sports. “I saw the time, and I didn’t think that was possible. We all had to rise because of her. … Awesome team we’re sending to Paris.”

The upcoming Paris games will mark Hiltz’s Olympics debut. “Woke up an Olympian,” they celebrated on social media.

“Yesterday afternoon in Eugene Oregon a childhood dream of mine came true. I’m not sure when this will fully sink in… All I know is today I’m waking up just so grateful for my people, overwhelmed by all the love and support, and filled with joy that I get to race people I deeply love and respect around a track for a living.”

Hiltz’s partner, Emma Gee—Brigham Young University’s first out student athlete—also celebrated the news on Instagram. “Y’all, they are headed to Paris!!!” she wrote. “Nikki Hiltz is an Olympian.”

In addition to achieving personal goals, Hiltz recognized the significance of their win for the larger community. “This is bigger than just me,” they said. “It’s the last day of Pride Month. … I wanted to run this one for my community.

“All the LGBT folks, yeah, you guys brought me home that last hundred [meters]. I could just feel the love and support.”

Last year, Hiltz made history as USA Track and Field’s first nonbinary national champion, a title they defended at the US Olympic Trials on Sunday. Earlier this year, they won a silver medal at the World Indoor Championships.

On Trans Day of Visibility in 2021, Hiltz came out publicly as trans and nonbinary. “I am and always will be a firm believer that vulnerability and visibility are essential in creating social change and acceptance,” they wrote. “So here I am, once again, coming out of a closet to be my true authentic self.”

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