Hiltz became what is believed to be the first nonbinary national champion in the 1500 meters. But they were far from the only story as Team LGBTQ made a strong showing throughout the entire competition.
Richardson, who came out as bisexual in 2015, announced that she is back in a big way, winning the national championship in the 100 meters in a scintillating 10.82 seconds, the fastest women’s 100m time of 2023.
Even before the race began, Richardson gave the crowd a moment to remember. As she was preparing to enter the starting blocks, Richardson reached up and appeared to adjust her trademark bright orange wig.
Then with a casual flourish, she pulled the wig all the way off and tossed it behind her, revealing her braided natural hair as the crowd erupted in cheers. As if she was taking the Lizzo lyric “I do my hair toss” literally, Richardson then ran a race that announced to the world she was feeling good as hell.
Two years ago, Richardson went through one of the highest and lowest points of her career, winning the 100 meters at the US Olympic Trials and fervently embracing her grandmother in the stands before revealing that her biological mother had recently died.
But just as she seemed destined to become one of the emotional centers of the Tokyo Games, Richardson tested positive for THC (which she used to cope with her biological mother’s passing), was suspended for one month, and her berth in the Olympics was rescinded.
Symbolically, Richardson’s wig toss signaled this was going to be a new day and her result confirmed it.
“I’ve been a champion,” she reflected with broadcaster Lewis Johnson. “The thing I remember the most is the last time I think I stood here, on this stadium, and I did an interview when I knew I wasn’t ready to do one. But now I stand with you again and I’m ready mentally, physically, emotionally, and I’m here to stay.
“I’m not back, I’m better.”
A race that began with Richardson tossing her wig ended with her dropping the mic.
Later in the competition, Richardson finished a close second to Gabby Thomas in the Women’s 200 meters, leading coming out of the turn before being passed.
Team LGBTQ also made its mark during other events. Emma Gee, who said she was the only out athlete at BYU when she came out as bisexual in 2019, finished in 16th place in the Women’s 3000 Meter Steeplechase with a time of 9:59.24.
Shortly after the race, Gee posted a reaction on her Instagram.
“While part of me is screaming/crying/punching the air about just missing the final, the other part is like, ‘Great job, dude, that was tough,’” she asserted.
She also used her Instagram to get everyone right in the feels with a warm and affectionate tribute to her partner Hiltz when they won the 1500 Meters.
Finally, Olympic heptathlete Erica Bougard competed in the first three events of the USATF heptathlon, making a strong showing with a second place finish in the High Jump. For reasons we have not been able to unearth, she did not compete in the latter four events.
Nonetheless, thanks to the performances of Hiltz and Richardson, the 2023 USATF Championships were a high point for LGBTQ sports. Hopefully, they will create more highlights at the upcoming World Championships and next year’s Paris Summer Olympics.