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Governor DeSantis recognizes Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as “rightful winner” of NCAA Div 1 Women’s 500-yard Freestyle race

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Governor Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation today recognizing Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the “rightful winner of the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Women’s 500-yard Freestyle” race.

The participation (and eventual win in the 500-yard Freestyle race) of Lia Thomas, who was born male, in the event has led to controversy; DeSantis weighed in today with a statement on Twitter that accompanied the proclamation: “By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud. In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best women’s swimmer in the 500y freestyle.”

The proclamation notes that Weyant won a silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, that her time in the 2022 NCAA Championships was the “fastest time among all women swimmers,” and that “a male identifying as a woman was allowed to compete and was declared the winner of the race.”

The proclamation goes on to state that the governor signed SB 1028, the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, on June 1, 2021, “to preserve fair opportunities for female athletes to demonstrate their strength, skills, and abilities in athletic competition” and that the act “specifies that an athletic team or sport that is designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex, based on the student’s official birth certificate at the time of birth.”

Thomas swam on Penn’s men’s swim team from 2017 to 2020, then took a year off while undergoing hormone therapy and began swimming on the women’s swim team in 2021.

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The proclamation also notes that “women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and it is wrong to allow ideology to erode these opportunities as is happening in other states” and “Florida rejects the NCAA’s efforts to destroy women’s athletics, disapproves of the NCAA elevating ideology over biology, and takes offense at the NCAA trying to make others complicit in a lie.”

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