Nikki Hiltz is having a successful track season in 2023 as they continued their strong performance by winning in the women's 1500m event at the 2023 USATF Championships on Saturday. Hiltz, 28, who is a biological woman and identifies as transgender nonbinary, is not only winning for themselves but said the win is for the transgender community, too.
"It was awesome," an elated Hiltz said. "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."
Who's Win Is It
Hiltz mentioned that they felt an extra boost when they entered the competition venue and spotted a fan proudly waving a transgender flag. The supportive gesture from the fan resonated with Hiltz, providing them with an extra boost of encouragement and reinforcing the significance of their representation and success for the transgender community.
"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."
During the race, Hiltz initially trailed behind their opponent Athing Mu.
However, they executed a brilliant strategy on the final straight, making a move to the outside of Mu. Hiltz then tapped into an extra burst of speed, crossing the finish line with a time of 4:03:10.
Their decisive surge allowed them to secure first place, leaving their competitors behind.
Notably, Sinclaire Johnson, the reigning US champion in the event, attempted a desperate dive toward the finish line to secure a top-three position but was unsuccessful.
Ultimately, Johnson finished in fourth place, a mere 0.01 seconds behind Cory McGee, with a time of 4:03:49.
The victory for Hiltz ended at 4:03.10.
Excited for Their Own Reason
After their triumphant win, Hiltz wore a radiant smile on their face as they embarked on a victory lap. Their jubilation led them to search for the fan who had displayed the transgender flag, intending to present them with their racing bib as a token of gratitude and appreciation for the support shown.
"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."
During the event, Hiltz was seen sharing a kiss and embracing their partner, Emma McGee. This display of affection highlighted the support and joy they experienced together in celebrating Hiltz's achievements.
In April, Hiltz made history as the first openly nonbinary athlete to win the Grand Blue Mile, as reported by the Des Moines Register. In an Instagram post the following day, Hiltz expressed their thoughts and reflections on their accomplishment.
"I can confidently say that the amount of pride flags I saw along yesterdays course, especially on the home stretch, is exactly what gave me that extra gear to pull away for the win with about 50 meters to go," she wrote.
"Before 2021, before I came out, I was just kind of committed to never sharing this part of myself and I was going to go through my whole career without ever coming out, and asking people to refer to me differently and being my true self," Hiltz told the Des Moines Register in an April interview. "So it's really cool, on a personal note, to see how much I've grown and I'm comfortable to be myself."