Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation declaring female collegiate swimmer Emma Weyant the “rightful winner” of the NCAA championship 500-yard freestyle event over transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
Weyant, a 20-year-old native of Sarasota who currently competes for the University of Virginia, finished runner-up to Thomas last week.
“By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud,” DeSantis said in a tweet announcing the proclamation.
“In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best women’s swimmer in the 500y freestyle.”
The declaration states that DeSantis believes “men should not be competing against women,” names Weyant the true winner, and congratulates her on a “significant achievement.”
By allowing men to compete in women’s sports, the NCAA is destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships, and perpetuating a fraud.
In Florida, we reject these lies and recognize Sarasota’s Emma Weyant as the best women’s swimmer in the 500y freestyle. pic.twitter.com/tBmFxFE3q6
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 22, 2022
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DeSantis Dismisses Lia Thomas, Declares Emma Weyant NCAA Champion
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As medals were passed out following the NCAA championship event, Emma Weyant was cheered wildly for her second-place finish while Lia Thomas’s support was more muted.
Second place is the new first: Emma Weyant is female winner of women’s 500 freestyle swimming
On the podium Thursday evening, the crowd cheered louder for Weyant, and when the officials moved on to Thomas, the crowd gave cheers mixed with boos.https://t.co/owTRtqQLRt
— Hannah Nightingale (@HannahNighting) March 18, 2022
Governor DeSantis spoke out strongly against Lia Thomas at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We need to stop allowing organizations like the NCAA to perpetuate frauds on the public, and that’s exactly what they’re doing,” he said.
DeSantis went on to describe Weyant as “a superstar her whole career” who “had the fastest time of any woman in college athletics” in the event.
Congratulations, Emma Weyant. The NCAA is trying to undermine the integrity of women’s sports. As the mother of two daughters, I’m proud of @GovRonDeSantis for fighting for women to have opportunities to succeed in athletics. pic.twitter.com/sbQh3YfFk3
— Casey DeSantis (@FLCaseyDeSantis) March 22, 2022
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Praise For the Proclamation
Social media users responded to the DeSantis proclamation of Emma Weyant as the “rightful winner” over Lia Thomas with some positive reinforcement.
“As a father of 3 daughters, with one who is currently competing at the High School level, thank you for sticking up for girls and women,” one person wrote.
As a father of 3 daughters, with one who is currently competing at the High School level, thank you for sticking up for girls and women.
— PaulRDube (@PaulRDube3) March 22, 2022
Meanwhile, the Orland Sentinel responded by accusing DeSantis of wading “into gender politics” and describing Weyant as a female but putting the word in quotation marks.
Gov. Ron DeSantis waded further into gender politics today, issuing a proclamation that said a swimmer from Sarasota is the nation’s best “female” in the 500-meter freestyle after she finished 2nd to a transgender athlete at the NCAA championship. https://t.co/pVSAUVn92a pic.twitter.com/c9zNgaaWtU
— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) March 22, 2022
DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, slammed the Sentinel for putting quotes around a descriptive term that is “an undisputed fact” and mocking the media for having gone “off the deep end.”
Uh, why is ‘female’ in quotes here? Emma is female; it is an undisputed fact. Florida media is truly going off the deep end this week. pic.twitter.com/Pd8GpSXIDH
— Christina Pushaw 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) March 22, 2022
Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Fairness In Women’s Sports Act,” which specifies that an “athletic team or sport that is designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex” on the basis of what is listed on their birth certificate.
“As a father of two daughters, I want my girls, and every girl in Florida, to compete on an even playing field for the opportunities available to young women in sports,” said DeSantis.
“Women have fought for decades to have equal opportunities in athletics, and we have to prevent those opportunities from being eroded as is happening in other states,” he added. “It’s common sense.”
Thomas swam for three years at Penn as a male prior to transitioning. According to Essentially Sports, Thomas ranked 65th in the country in the 500-yard freestyle event during that time.
Now, Thomas is a “women’s” champion, recognized everywhere as such within the NCAA … except in Florida.
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