Nikki Hiltz’s dream 2023 season on the track continued on Saturday, as her late push past Athing Mu in the 2023 USATF Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, saw her named the women’s 1500m champ for the third time this year.
Hiltz came into this race having won the indoor 1500 and road mile titles earlier this year.
But this victory was more than just another title under their belt. Hiltz, a biological female who identifies as transgender non-binary, said it was a win for the trans community.
And they saw at least one fan in the stands supporting them as they walked to the start line.
“It was awesome,” Hiltz said after the race. “I think there’s so much hate right now, and specifically the bills being passed for trans youth. I feel like the LGBTQ community needed a win and there’s so many things that go through your mind in the race, and for whatever reason that 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 even started and I [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 for me.”
Hiltz made a brilliant move on the final straight-away, getting outside Mu – a middle-distance runner with two gold medals under her belt – and kicking into another gear to finish at 4:03:10. Hiltz broke the finish-line tape and a huge smile came across their face.
They made a victory lap, too, and that’s when they wanted to find the one fan to offer up their racing bib.
“I saw them after the race and I gave them my bibs,” they said. “I did a whole victory lap holding my bib. I wanted to give it to that one person because they were the reason I won, or one of them. They pulled it out of me. So it was awesome.
“Track is a super niche sport and I don’t even know that many trans or queer people watch. So the ones that do, that’s who I do it for.”
Cory McGee came in third place in the race at 4:03:48, while the reigning U.S. champion in the event, Sinclaire Johnson, tried to dive to get into the top three. Instead, she finished in fourth, just .01 seconds behind McGee at 4:03:49.
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