A 29-year-old marathon runner will be the first out trans woman to compete in a US Olympic trial.
In Atlanta on February 29, Megan Youngren and 62 other women will compete for a spot on the US Olympic team.
The winners at the trials will represent the US in the Summer Games in Tokyo later this year.
Youngren came 40th at the California international marathon in December with a time of 2:43:52 – good enough to qualify for the Atlanta marathon trials.
Her California qualifying time came after running the Los Angeles marathon in 3:06:42 last year, too. Youngren says this is what spurred her to train more intensively.
“I thought that if I worked incredibly hard and took some huge risks that I could run a 2:45,” Youngren said.
“People will try to put it down by saying, ‘That’s too easy because you’re trans.’
“But what about the 500 other women who will qualify? There’s probably someone with the exact same story.
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“I trained hard. I got lucky. I dodged injuries. I raced a lot, and it worked out for me.
“That’s the story for a lot of other people, too.”
Susan Hazzard, the US team’s track and fields spokesperson, said: “To my knowledge, and that of other staff who have been with USATF for many years, we do not recall a trans competitor at our marathon trials.”
Megan Youngren said she was prepared for criticism, but that she had “done everything by the book” and could show it.
She also said it was important to her that she’s open about being trans, because “that’s the only way you can make progress on stuff like this”.
As far as training goes, Youngren said “there are days when my feet are sliding around in the snow. My lungs hurt because it’s cold and I’m wearing all these layers” and it’s then that she asks herself: “Am I really getting that much faster?
“Then it warms up a bit for a day and I go, ‘Oh, my God. I am actually getting faster. This is working.’ As far as getting on the starting line in Atlanta, I am super excited because training is going so well.”
While she’s the first openly trans athlete to compete at the US Olympic marathon trials, Youngren follows in the footsteps of Chris Mosier – another US athlete and trans man who, in January 2020, made history as the first openly trans athlete to compete in a US Olympic trial.