- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Add former Vice President Mike Pence to the list of those declaring that Emma Weyant, not Lia Thomas, was the true winner of a swimming title at last month’s NCAA Division I women’s championships.

Emma Weyant won that race,” Mr. Pence said Tuesday night in a speech hosted by the Young America’s Foundation at the University of Virginia, drawing cheers.

Ms. Weyant, a Virginia freshman, placed second in the 500-yard freestyle to the University of Pennsylvania’s Ms. Thomas, a transgender athlete who became eligible to swim on the women’s team after undergoing a year of testosterone suppression under NCAA rules.

Mr. Pence also took a jab at President Biden, whose administration has pushed to add gender identity to civil rights protections, including Title IX, the federal prohibition against sexual discrimination in education.

“I know that in his State of the Union address President Biden promised to stand for the God-given right of men to compete in women’s sports,” Mr. Pence said to laughter. “But common sense needs to reign, and it will reign.”

Mr. Biden made a pitch in his March 1 address for the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, blasting the “onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans.”

Mr. Pence was also asked if he planned to run for president in 2024. He responded, “I’ll keep you posted.”

Ms. Weyant, who won an Olympic silver medal last year in Tokyo, has been held up as an example of the risks of the gender-identity movement’s threat to women’s competitive sports. She has not commented publicly.

Those declaring Ms. Weyant the “rightful winner” of the race include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed a proclamation last month honoring her.

“Women’s sports is a pathway toward achievement and excellence, and I expect there are some outstanding women athletes in the room today, maybe some looking on,” Mr. Pence said. “And we need to defend the integrity of women’s sports in America for the benefit of women everywhere.”

In his question, Virginia freshman Matthew Lawrence asked Mr. Pence what he would say to “Emma and UVA as a whole about this embarrassing event that cheated our school out of a gold medal.”

Virginia won the women’s swimming and diving team title at the March 16-19 championships in Atlanta.

Ms. Thomas won the 500 but went on to place fifth in the 200-year freestyle and eighth in the 100-yard freestyle, earning women’s All-America honors in all three events.

A fifth-year senior, Ms. Thomas swam for three years on the UPenn men’s team before transitioning to female, then joined the women’s team for the 2021-22 season after being cleared by the NCAA.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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