Nikki Hiltz’s dream 2023 season on track continued on Saturday, when she bested Athing Mu at the 2023 USATF Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, and saw her named the women’s 1500m champion for the third time this year.
Hiltz came into this race having won the 1500 indoor and road mile titles earlier this year.
But this victory was more than one more title to his credit. Hiltz, a biological woman who identifies as nonbinary transgender, said it was a victory for the trans community.
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And they saw at least one fan in the stands supporting them as they walked to the starting line.
«It was unbelievable,» Hiltz said after the race. «I think there’s so much hate going on right now, and specifically the bills being passed for trans youth. I feel like the LGBTQ community needed a win and there’s so much going through your mind in the race, and for some reason that It was kind of in the back of my mind.
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«I saw that trans flag right when I came out before the race started and I thought [felt like] that person. I don’t know their pronouns or who they are, but they brought that flag and I bet they’re here because of me.»
Hiltz made a brilliant move down the final stretch, passing Mu, a middle-distance runner with two gold medals to her credit, and shifting gears to finish in 4:03:10. Hiltz tore the finish line tape and a big smile broke out on her face.
They did a victory lap too, and that’s when they wanted to find the fan to offer their number.
«I saw them after the race and gave them my numbers,» they said. «I did a whole victory lap holding my number. I wanted to give it to that person because they were the reason I won, or one of them. They took it from me. So it was amazing.»
«Track is a super specialized sport and I don’t even know if a lot of trans or queer people watch it. So for the ones who do, that’s what I do it for.»
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Cory McGee came in third in the race in 4:03:48, while reigning US event champion Sinclaire Johnson tried to dive into the top three. Instead, she finished in fourth place, just 0.01 seconds behind McGee in 4:03:49.