Transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon sprints away with 200m gold medal The Sunday Times 22.10.19

The original article is here.

Rachel McKinnon, the cyclist who has become a reluctant “poster girl” for transgender athletes, has successfully defended her world title in Manchester.

McKinnon, 37, who set a world record in the qualifying heats for the women’s 200m sprint, won in a dominant display. There was loud cheering for Dawn Orwick, the runner-up.

However, her victory has sparked a campaign for the world cycling authorities to change the rules.

Jennifer Wagner-Assali, 39, who was pipped to bronze by McKinnon in the Masters Track Cycling World Championship last year but did not race yesterday, has joined the campaign.

She said of last year’s event: “It was an unfair race and I accepted that when I pinned on the number, and I tried to do my best to overcome the unfairness.

“I do feel that hard-fought freedoms for women’s sport are being eroded. If we continue to let this happen there will be men’s sports and co-ed sports but there won’t be any women’s sports.”

Wagner-Assali said the pressure groups Fair Play for Women and Save Women’s Sports had urged the UCI, the world governing body of cycling, to act.

She said: “We have nothing against the trans women personally or that they want to ride or race their bikes. We just don’t think the female category is the right place.”

After setting a new world record on Friday, McKinnon said it was wrong to say she was dominating her sport. “I haven’t won any Olympic medals. I haven’t won any elite world championships.”

She said Wagner-Assali had beaten her in 10 out of 13 races and it was unfortunate she had become the “poster girl for trans athletes” when her highest elite world ranking was 85th.

But Wagener-Assari said: “I see little girls competing . . . and I don’t want them to have to fight this issue.”

@nicholashellen