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Trans athlete Chelsea Wolfe poised to make Olympics history after stunning BMX victory

Maggie Baska June 10, 2021
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BMX freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe trans

BMX freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe could become the first out trans athlete to join a US Olympic team. (Instagram/@chelseawolfebmx/Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)

BMX freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe just clinched an essential win that could result in her becoming the first out trans athlete to make a US Olympic team.

Wolfe took fifth place in the final standings at the UCI Urban World Championships in Montpellier, France on Monday (7 June). The result placed her in third overall in the USA team rankings. If her current ranking holds, she should receive a place as an alternate on Team USA for the Olympic games in Tokyo.

Wolfe told Outsports that she’s been “slowly processing” her recent win and what this could mean for her chance to go to the Olympics. She explained that she had been “really focused” heading into the UCI Worlds and executed “just about everything I had planned”. But she said that the final result and potential Olympian status hadn’t fully set in yet.

“I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around how exciting it is, and how incredible it is to make it so far with this wild dream of mine that I’ve dedicated my life to for the past five years,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe began BMX racing when she was six years old in April 2000, according to the official USA Cycling website. She started in freestyle competitions in 2014 and has competed at the state level.

In 2016, she started travelling nationally for BMX freestyle when it was announced that the sport would be included in the 2020 Olympic Games. Over the following years, Wolfe competed internally on the road to the Olympics, and now, it seems that all her hard work could pay off.

Chelsea Wolfe used her interview with Outsports to send a message to other trans athletes who are the targets of wave after wave of anti-trans legislation across the US. At the beginning of Pride Month, Wolfe’s home state of Florida passed a ban on trans youth participating in school sports.

“You are valuable and valid, and your rights are just as important as anyone else’s and we’re not going to let anyone take that from you,” Wolfe said. “If you can live life openly as yourself in a world so hostile to your existence, then you already have the strength of a champion.”

Wolfe opened up to USA Today in 2020 about the fears she had about her career as a trans woman in sports. She explained it was “crushing to try to accept” that her hardwood and dreams of being a professional athlete might be crushed because she’s trans.

“Just like any kid who does a sport, they dream of doing it professionally and having just a world of opportunities to progress in life in any avenue that they choose to go,” Wolfe said.

She continued: “But I – almost as soon as those feelings of desire, of having a professional career developed, they were instantly shot down by my own thoughts of ‘Yeah, but nobody’s ever going to accept you as a trans woman athlete’.”

But Chelsea Wolfe said her journey has actually motivated her on the days when she’s “on the receiving end of a lot of hate or facing a really just difficult thing to overcome”. She told USA Today: “I remind myself that, even though I am doing this for the same reasons as anyone else does, of wanting to be a professional athlete, I’m also doing this because I want to be the person that I needed to see when I was younger.

“Back then, it would have helped me immensely to feel worth and value in just who I was as a person and not feel like I needed to hide from the world.”

Related topics: Chelsea wolfe, olympics, trans athletes

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