Transgender BMX Freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe is in line for an historic place on Team USA ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, after her fifth-place finish at the UCI Urban World Championships this week.
While Wolfe finished fifth in Montpellier, she now sits in third place in the Team USA standings, and if that remains the case she will be an alternate on the team for Tokyo. She would thus be the first out trans athlete on Team USA.
The winner of the BMX Freestyle Park event, Hannah Roberts [who recently married her wife], is first in the U.S. rankings and all but certain for Tokyo, while Perris Benegas, the 2018 world champion, finished fourth in France and sits second in the Team USA rankings.
Wolfe, whose opening run score of 80 was enough for fifth, told Outsports about being in Team USA contention: "It's honestly slowly processing little by little how exciting that is.
"I don't think I've fully wrapped my head around how exciting it is, and how incredible it is to make it so far with this wild dream of mine that I've dedicated my life to for the past five years."
Wolfe began BMX racing 12 years ago, but switched to freestyle in 2017. She told USA Today in 2020 that the discipline, which gives her a minute on the course to do any tricks she likes, is fitting for her self-expression.
She said: "Whether you do tricks that are more known for how well they're executed or just the difficulty of doing the trick, period, is all up to the rider. So it's a very individualistic thing.
"And being on the course by yourself, it just really lets you express however you want to do your riding."
Wolfe, responding to the recent wave of anti-trans legislation in the U.S., especially in college and school sports, is well aware of how her visibility can make an impact on young LGBTQ+ athletes, and encouraged those being discriminated against to keep their heads high.
"You are valuable and valid, and your rights are just as important as anyone else's and we're not going to let anyone take that from you," Wolfe told Outsports.
"If you can live life openly as yourself in a world so hostile to your existence, then you already have the strength of a champion."
Wolfe is not the first trans athlete to aim for Team USA qualification. Most famously, triathlete Chris Mosier became the first trans man to compete at US Olympics trials alongside other men, in 2020, but he was unable to finish the race due to injury.