Transgender sprinter CeCe Telfer, an NCAA Division II track and field champion in 2019, was ruled ineligible to compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles U.S. Olympic Trials due to her testosterone levels.
Despite the disappointment, Telfer says she is grateful for the love and support given to her by her peers.
“A lot of my competitors that ran at the trials were reaching out to me, making sure that I’m safe and everything’s going well,” she told People. “They were just making sure that like I’m doing all right. They were like, ‘When are we going to compete?’ and ‘When are we going to run together?’ Because they want to race, they want to compete against the best.”
Athletes must meet the requirements to be a member of the US Olympic Team to be eligible for the trials in track and field, per the “Eligibility Regulations for Transgender Athletes” guidelines.
“Following notification from World Athletics on June 17 that the conditions had not yet been met, USATF provided CeCe with the eligibility requirements and, along with World Athletics, the opportunity to demonstrate her eligibility so that she could compete at the US Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field,” the USATF statement said in June.
Telfer said fellow athletes voicing their support helped her deal with the ruling.
“It was great to see that. I felt like I mattered, I felt like I was seen by my competitors,” she says.
Telfer competed for NCAA Division II Franklin Pierce University men’s track and field team for three years before her transition. She then competed on the women’s team as a senior before going on to win the NCAA title in the women’s 400-meter hurdles in 2019.
Telfer is now focused on the 2022 World Championships and the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
“All the negativity, all the backlash, turn the other cheek. Take all that negativity and put it in what you’re doing,” she adds. “So for me, I put it on the track. When I hear all of the negativity around me, being denied and be shot down so many times, I go straight to the track and I work it out. That’s when I get my best workouts.”