A Time of Transition
A Time of Transition
A Time of Transition

Resources to guide the participation of transgender athletes in competition are scarce. As society’s views and medical science’s understanding of gender identity and expression evolve, sports leaders at all levels are searching for answers to a complex question: How do you open opportunities for transgender athletes while maintaining fair competition for all? The NCAA is just one organization seeking a solution as it works to update its guide for transgender student-athletes to better assist schools and conferences. Here’s a look at the policies that are guiding various sports organizations around the world.

Searching for a Solution

Resources to guide the participation of transgender athletes in competition are scarce. As society’s views and medical science’s understanding of gender identity and expression evolve, sports leaders at all levels are searching for answers to a complex question: How do you open opportunities for transgender athletes while maintaining fair competition for all? The NCAA is just one organization seeking a solution as it works to update its guide for transgender student-athletes to better assist schools and conferences. Here’s a look at the policies that are guiding various sports organizations around the world.

Nerves wrestled her awake at 8:09 a.m., 51 minutes ahead of her alarm. Ready or not, Championship Saturday had arrived.

Fifth-year senior hurdler CeCe Telfer had imagined this day all year. She visualized herself on the Javelinas track at the Division II Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Texas A&M-Kingsville, competing for the last time as a college athlete. Stepping up to the line. Exploding from the starting blocks. Flying toward the first hurdle. Execute. Deliver. Number one. She would repeat these words again and again in the coming hours, a steady mental drumbeat that kept her focused on the task at hand and not the stares, jeers and looks of disgust that seemed to follow wherever she went.

Telfer had come to expect such reactions this year as she competed for the first time as a female. She had been a member of the Franklin Pierce men’s track team for three years before medically transitioning — a process that included more than 12 months of testosterone suppression along with daily estrogen pills, regular doctor exams and bloodwork. Telfer and Franklin Pierce athletics administrators were meticulous as they followed NCAA guidelines for transgender student-athlete participation, ensuring Telfer’s eligibility in women’s track for the final indoor and outdoor seasons of her collegiate career.

But while a policy on paper paved her path, it couldn’t guarantee it would be smooth. Inevitably, Telfer’s place in this championship had drawn attention, from the celebratory to the indignant, and a range of conflicted emotions in between.

Telfer’s first race of the day would be the women’s 100-meter hurdle finals, in which she had qualified fifth. Later that night, she would take the line as the top seed in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. Every move on this day would be spent preparing herself not just physically, but mentally. So in the hours after she rolled out of bed, Telfer was intentional about every action. She stayed off her feet and out of the south Texas sun. She sipped a venti green tea from Starbucks, her routine prerace drink that makes her feel calm. She applied her usual medley of makeup and, for a little extra shimmer, some metallic temporary tattoos. She slipped on her headphones and blasted her favorite pump-up song, Fall Out Boy’s “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark.”

“So light ’em up up up, light ’em up up up, light ’em up up up, I’m on fire. …”

Then, two hours before she would toe the line, Telfer changed into her maroon Franklin Pierce uniform, left her air-conditioned room and stepped outside into the heat.

While Telfer’s path has generated scrutiny, she’s not the first or only transgender student-athlete to compete in college sports. Thirteen years before Telfer took the track as a woman, Keelin Godsey, a Division III national champion in the women’s hammer throw, transitioned from female to male during his time at Bates College. As the first openly transgender student-athlete in the NCAA, Godsey had little to guide him through the process. A policy regulating NCAA transgender student-athlete participation did not yet exist.

A mere decade and a half later, society’s evolving views have altered the landscape. Transgender athletes are competing at all levels of sport, from youth club programs to professional leagues. Yet even as more transgender athletes get into the game, sports leaders, competitors and fans around the globe still grapple with how to keep contests fair for all.

Keelin Godsey action image

Keelin Godsey came out as a transgender man after his junior year in 2005, making him the first openly transgender athlete in the NCAA. Already a national champion in the women’s hammer throw, Godsey chose not to medically transition in college to remain on the Bates women’s team. Getty images

Today the policies setting the parameters for transgender athletes are a patchwork of overlapping and sometimes conflicting rules established by state high school athletics associations; individual colleges, universities and athletics conferences; the national and international governing bodies for sports; and the International Olympic Committee.

Determining the best route forward is especially contentious in women’s sports, where debates simmer about common physiological differences between men and women such as height, body structure, muscle mass and other contrasts affected by testosterone — and how many of those differences can be neutralized when a male athlete medically transitions to a female. The issue provokes large, complex questions — questions of competitive equity, social inclusivity and biology. How do you ensure all athletes have the opportunity to compete while also giving all athletes a fair shot in competition? What is the right balance between fostering an inclusive environment and maintaining a level playing field? What exactly is a level playing field anyway, and who gets to decide?

In a space where stereotypes and discrimination have long proliferated, well-intended experts want to lean on the objectivity of science — but medical science is an ever-evolving landscape.

The sports world revolves around the black and white. Wins and losses come down to seconds and inches. The ball is in bounds or out of bounds. The runner sliding into home is safe or out. And for as long as women have had an entry point for participating in sports, athletic competition has been based on two foundational binary categories: male or female.

The inclusion of transgender individuals in sports challenges the clarity of that dividing line, forcing sports leaders to contend with an issue that is steeped in gray.

At first, Telfer didn’t want to share her story. She had no interest in being a trailblazer or the center of fiery Twitter threads. But for many transgender athletes through the years — especially those who have been competitively successful — a quest for privacy can be a lost cause.

Tennis player Renee Richards picture

Tennis player Renee Richards was among the first transgender athletes in the United States to garner attention in the 1970s. After she was outed as transgender and banned from women’s competition at the U.S. Open, Richards sued the U.S. Tennis Association and won. Getty images

In the 1970s, Renée Richards was among the first transgender athletes in the United States to garner attention. Richards was a tennis player who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1975 at the age of 40 and moved from New York to California with the hopes of starting a new life as a woman. But she was outed as transgender while playing in a tennis tournament, prompting the U.S. Tennis Association to ban her from women’s competition at the U.S. Open. Richards subsequently sued the USTA and won, setting the stage for her to compete in the 1977 U.S. Open — and become the trailblazer she never intended to be.

Decades later, in 2004, the International Olympic Committee opened its doors for transgender athletes who met three criteria: hormonal therapy, legal recognition of their assigned sex and surgical anatomical changes, “including external genitalia changes and gonadectomy” —requirements that have since loosened. Other sports bodies, including the U.S. Golf Association and USA Track and Field, soon followed, establishing similar policies.

The NCAA waded deeper into the conversation in 2010 when it convened a think tank of students, athletics administrators, medical experts and lawyers — a gathering that led to creating the NCAA’s first policy for transgender student-athletes. A transgender male athlete (assigned female at birth and identifies as a male) can compete on a men’s or women’s team unless he receives a medical exception to take testosterone; if he takes testosterone, he can compete only on a men’s team. For a transgender female athlete (assigned male at birth and identifies as a female), competition on a women’s team is permissible after undergoing 12 months of testosterone suppression treatment.

The policy sets regulations specific to NCAA competition, but individual schools and athletics conferences are encouraged to adopt their own policies that incorporate NCAA guidelines.

Today, eight years after the NCAA implemented its policy, the rapidly changing dynamics around gender identity and expression have precipitated a renewed look at it. The NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports and the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics both are slated to review the guidelines this year, informed with input from the NCAA office of inclusion and outside clinicians and scientists specializing in transgender health care.

The committee members will consider questions faced by other sports groups, leagues and associations delving into the scientific labyrinth of sex and gender distinctions. Anyone investigating the topic faces heavy questions about normal testosterone levels in men and normal testosterone levels in women, how they can be altered and what they mean for the human body. The complex discussions involve measurements in nanomoles and nanograms and discoveries about spironolactone and GnRH analogs and follicle-stimulating hormones and luteinizing hormones.

Yet amid any review of the cold, hard data is a consideration that can’t be measured: The emotional reality of human experience. 

Telfer has fielded the question all her life: Are you a boy or a girl? Born in Jamaica as Craig Telfer, the youngest of three children raised by a single mom, she always liked her feminine features but quickly learned the outside world did not. Telfer wore thick dreads long down her back, but at age 10, a cousin cut them while Telfer slept. She loved to dance, sing, cheer and do gymnastics, but others pressured her to try basketball.

Telfer felt she couldn’t contort herself to fit into what she saw as society’s box of boyhood. But her buoyant personality never dulled, helping her win over friends and brush off bullies’ snide remarks.

Photo of CeCe Telfer at starting line.

CeCe Telfer mentally prepares herself for the women’s 400-meter hurdles at the Division II track and field championships last May in Kingsville, Texas. Telfer competed for three years on the Franklin Pierce men’s track and field team before medically transitioning and joining the women’s team for the 2018-19 indoor and outdoor seasons. NCAA photos

Telfer remembers learning about sex education in a sixth-grade health class. She was enthralled to learn about the differences between boys and girls and felt pulled curiously toward anything in the lesson plan pertaining to females. When her mother picked her up from school that afternoon, Telfer announced to her mother’s dismay: “I have my period.”

Another time, Telfer was disciplined for going into the girls restroom on her first day at a new school. She was forced to apologize to classmates and tell them she was not a girl, but a boy. “I think subconsciously I was identifying as female, but not consciously,” Telfer recalls.

Telfer was 12 when the family moved to Canada, the first in a string of relocations. Their mother was a traveling nurse, and they moved from house to house, school to school, until Telfer landed in Lebanon, New Hampshire, heading into her junior year of high school.

In a high school population that is predominately white, a 6-foot-2 Jamaican teenage boy with long legs and long braids hardly blended in. But again, Telfer didn’t need to conform to find a welcome place in the crowd. She made fast friends, got a job at the town’s famous ice cream parlor and joined the track and field team, where coach Andrew Gamble recruited Telfer for an event that would change her life.

“You’re a hurdler,” the coach told Telfer.

But years later, it’s not Telfer’s natural talent on the track that Gamble recalls most. “When I think of CeCe or Craig, I think of that big, wide smile that she has,” the former coach says. “It surely made me feel warm when she smiled, which was always.” 

In Lebanon, Telfer had for the first time found a place that felt like home. So when Telfer’s mother got a new job in New York her senior year, Telfer stayed behind, living alone and working after school to pay rent. She was finally getting caught up on academics, and she was thriving in track. She harbored hopes of college.

How possible is it to preserve competitive equity in any sport? What defines fairness? What makes one circumstance an unfair advantage and another, like height or a long arm span, a blessing at birth? These are questions even the brightest minds in medicine and athletics struggle to answer. And they have fueled debates in recent months around the world.

In February, two transgender high school sprinters in Connecticut made headlines by placing first and second among girls at the indoor state track meet. Connecticut is one of 19 states that permit transgender high school athletes to compete without hormone treatment or other restrictions, according to transathlete.com.

Photo of Connecticut high school sprinters Andraya Yearwood and Ngozi Nnaji

Connecticut high school sprinters Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller pose with Yearwood’s mother, Ngozi Nnaji, at a screening of “Changing the Game,” a new documentary about transgender athletes. Miller and Yearwood, both transgender females, drew national attention after they placed first and second, respectively, in the women’s 55-meter dash at the state indoor track championships. Getty images

Then this spring, the International Association of Athletics Federations announced it is lowering the permissible testosterone levels for female athletes from 10 nanomoles of testosterone per liter of blood to 5 nanomoles. Reported average levels of testosterone for adult biological females vary but typically fall between 0.3 and 2.1 nanomoles per liter, according to Mayo Clinic Laboratories. In adult biological males, those levels typically fall between 8.3 and 32.9 nanomoles per liter.

Dr. Nick Gorton, a physician specializing in transgender health care at Lyon-Martin Health Services in San Francisco, who has consulted with NCAA staff on the issue, notes that while those testosterone ranges are considered “normal,” 5% of biological males and females fall outside those ranges.

Testosterone is included on the NCAA banned substance list because of its performance-enhancing effects.

“It’s clear testosterone is a primary mediator in the difference between men and women in muscle mass, muscle strength and endurance in sports,” says Dr. Bradley Anawalt, chief of medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center and an endocrinologist who treats transgender patients. “Boys and girls do not have significant differences in athletic performance until the age of puberty. That’s the time you see dramatic differences. There’s no question that the single most important element is testosterone—how high your blood concentration is and the timing and duration of exposure to testosterone.”

The impact of testosterone on competitive performance explains the NCAA requirement for transgender female athletes such as Telfer to suppress the hormone for 12 months. But even this piece of the policy draws debate. Some believe the 12-month requirement is unfairly long, arguing that effects of hormone treatment occur more quickly and that nine months would suffice. Others think the policy should name a specific testosterone threshold. And still others voice fears about adding any number to the collegiate policy, saying that testing for testosterone levels is increasingly viewed as a violation of human rights and would cruelly target one subset of athletes.

“It’s really critical to consider the inclusion aspects of this issue,” says Jean Merrill, NCAA director of inclusion. She points to variables other than testosterone that also contribute to competitive advantage, such as access to good nutrition, quality coaches, high-tech equipment and physical characteristics such as height and weight.

“All are in agreement that transgender athletes and those with endocrinologic situations should be allowed to participate, following some guidelines,” says Doug Ramos, a surgeon and team physician for Creighton and the chair of the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. “There’s not an ideal situation here because life and genetics and physiology has presented us with a less than ideal situation, and it’s nobody’s fault.”

Telfer can’t pinpoint the exact moment she knew. It was more of a slow realization, building over time. And at Franklin Pierce, the small college she was recruited to attend 80 miles south of Lebanon, she had the space for that realization to naturally occur.

To the people who know her at Franklin Pierce — which is to say, almost everyone — Telfer has always been the same outgoing, positive person. “Even though she was technically Craig, she’s always been CeCe to us,” says Makina Itchkavich-Levasseur, an assistant athletic trainer for the Ravens.

Track and field coach Zach Emerson recruited Telfer to the men’s team, where she ran as Craig. But it wasn’t long before the track was the only place she was Craig. All her life she had suppressed her authentic tendencies, but in college, she was free to dress, speak and carry herself however she wanted. She bought women’s clothes that made her feel pretty, applied makeup every morning and got her nails done. Her best friend started calling her “CeCe” after her freshman year, and the name stuck.

“Coming to college, I knew this was my getaway,” Telfer says. “I can breathe.”

Telfer redshirted her first year of track, then became a consistent scorer in men’s hurdles her second and third year. She placed third in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2017 Northeast-10 Conference outdoor championships.

It was around that time that Telfer visited Planned Parenthood and asked for birth control. She was desperate to become more feminine, and she yearned for any estrogen she could get. A nurse, picking up on Telfer’s plan, informed the student about the organization’s transgender policy. Telfer began seeing a doctor, who guided her through hormone treatment — a regimen that involves daily doses of spironolactone, which blocks testosterone in her body,  and estradiol, which provides estrogen.

Throughout college, she saw a therapist on campus to help with the daily mental struggles she hid from nearly everyone else. She remained on the men’s team until 2018, when the tension between who she felt she was and who she had to be on the track became too great. She quit the team. “It was stifling, and I couldn’t do it anymore,” Telfer says.

“In hindsight, that must have been torture for her,” Emerson says. “The thing she liked doing the most, the thing she was good at, was also the thing that was gnawing at her, that made her feel like she wasn’t being true to herself.”

Telfer stayed busy with schoolwork, an internship in the athletic training room and a multitude of extracurriculars, including singing the national anthem at Ravens competitions. In the spring, Franklin Pierce President Kim Mooney honored her with a president’s award, given to three students each year for their contributions to the university community. She graduated with a degree in psychology and set her sights on returning to Franklin Pierce for a fifth year to finish her second major, biology.

That summer, Telfer worked out daily with her roommate and women’s track athlete Lilian Baah. Telfer realized how badly she missed the camaraderie of a team and the rush of competition. And she yearned to take the line as the person she felt she truly was.

She told Baah she wanted to compete as a woman. When Telfer raised the question with Franklin Pierce athletics staff, no one was surprised.

“I was honestly relieved when she said she wanted to compete as a female,” assistant coach Whitney Cyr says. “I never really once thought of her as a male. I just felt like, OK, she’s finally getting a little more comfortable making this transition.”

Of course, there were logistics to sort through. Athletics Director Rachel Burleson notified the university president. “We don’t have a policy,” Burleson said.

“Let’s make one,” Mooney replied.

A team of administrators consulted with Northeast-10 Conference staff, NCAA national office staff, fellow schools and lawyers to craft a transgender policy to guide their path forward not only in athletics, but institution-wide. “We were honoring our high standards of diversity and inclusivity; that’s what this was about,” Mooney says.

With the policy in place, the athletics staff, including the drug-testing coordinator and compliance director, worked with Telfer and her doctor to ensure she followed NCAA standards. They documented her hormone levels and confirmed that she had been on hormone therapy for more than a year.

“She’s my first openly transgender student-athlete I’ve ever had, so it was a new process for all of us,” Burleson says. The athletics director knew questions and criticism were sure to follow. But she remained focused on Telfer. “My job is to support my student-athletes.”

And so, in December, CeCe Telfer took the track.

Among all the scientific data, there are other numbers — grim numbers — that must not be forgotten in the conversation. The average life expectancy in the United States for transgender women of color is 35, says Gorton, the San Francisco physician. And according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, half of transgender male teens and 30% of transgender female teens report attempting suicide.

Photo of Chris Mosier

Transgender advocate and triathlete Chris Mosier became the first transgender man to make a men’s U.S. national team in 2015. In April, Mosier spoke to student-athletes at Franklin Pierce, including Telfer, to share his story and answer questions about transgender inclusion. Andy Cunningham/Franklin Pierce University

“If everyone approaches it with kindness and compassion,” says Ramos, the CSMAS chair, “we will get perhaps the best decision.”

Chris Mosier, a transgender man and six-time member of Team USA triathlon and duathlon teams, remembers his own experience before coming out and the energy he had to bring to each day.

But now, he says, sports are where he feels most at home. “Because regardless of who I am off the court or the field, when I step into my uniform, when I’m with my teammates or when I’m at the practice facility, that’s when I feel fully myself,” says Mosier, who is working with the NCAA on the updated transgender guide.

He also acknowledges that, as hard as his transition from female to male was, he did not face the level of harassment in his sport that Telfer and other transgender female athletes have. That goes for even after he became the first transgender athlete to make a U.S. national team — a men’s team, which he then made five more times. “People do not believe that someone transitioning from female to male will be a threat, and therefore, they are given a pass so to speak in terms of competing with men,” Mosier says. “And that is rooted in sexism. That is rooted in the belief that no one assigned female at birth could ever be as strong, as fast, or competitive with people assigned male at birth.”

Those societal presumptions, Mosier adds, cause transgender women to be “instantly discriminated against, not just when they’re doing well, but simply when they want to compete.”

Telfer may not show it outwardly, but the hate spewed at her from mere strangers compounds negative thoughts she already battles deep inside.

“My heart’s broken every single time I look in the mirror,” Telfer says. “I just feel like I see something that I don’t identify with. I wish I was somebody else, and I wish I wasn’t in this body.”

Heading into the indoor track and field conference championship, Northeast-10 Conference Commissioner Julie Ruppert wanted to send a clear message. On Feb. 14, she sent an email to all conference coaches reinforcing her expectations for a positive meet atmosphere.

“As coaches, you each have a unique opportunity to set the standard for the environment and culture in your teams,” Ruppert wrote. “Anyone in attendance that fails to live up to the standard we’ve set for each other, including coaches, student-athletes and parents/fans, and who does not do their part to ensure a safe, positive competitive environment will be asked to leave the facility.”

Telfer’s name wasn’t mentioned, and it didn’t need to be. Throughout the indoor season, she had racked up invitational wins, school records and Northeast-10 Athlete of the Week recognitions. Coaches and competitors knew of her, even if they didn’t personally know her.

Ruppert was thrilled to see so many go above and beyond to show their support of Telfer at the Northeast-10 Conference championship, where she won the 60-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles and was named Most Outstanding Female Athlete. On top of her running feats, Telfer sang the national anthem.

“I said to people afterward, this is what the NE10 is about,” Ruppert says. “This student-athlete came to a conference championship and felt comfortable in her own skin, in her own experiences, that she’s putting herself out there as a focus.”

But the atmosphere that drew Ruppert’s pride was not reflected in spaces beyond the conference as people took to the internet to voice their strongly worded disapproval. One blog post detailed Telfer’s previous successes in men’s track, repeatedly called her a “dude” and made a remark about her genitalia.

Dozens of others commented on Franklin Pierce and Northeast-10 Conference posts on Twitter and Facebook.

“For the love of g-d will an adult step up and stop letting men steal titles from women!”

“This is disgusting. Letting a man compete against women is gross.”

“Is CeCe short for ‘that’s a f----- dude’?”

Telfer fielded hateful direct messages on Instagram. Burleson received threats on her home phone. Ruppert slogged through angry emails.

“A lot of people think that I’m this confident extrovert, that I don’t let any negative situations bother me,” Telfer says. “But they do because I’m only human.”

Hands on her hips, Telfer rocked from side to side, eyes glued to the row of hurdles before her in the Javelinas Stadium. Beyond that, she could see the finish line, 100 meters down the track.

Execute, she told herself. Deliver. Number one.

The words were her mental armor, a shield to dangerous doubts that could take hold in an instant. She could not let the doubts win.

Her coach, Emerson, had noticed this resolve over the last year. On the men’s team, Telfer would routinely make excuses to miss practice or a weight session. But now, comfortable competing as female, Telfer displayed a newfound dedication. “It was pretty clear this was CeCe on a mission,” Emerson says.

From the loudspeaker at the Texas A&M-Kingsville stadium blared the names and notable accomplishments of eight competitors on the line.“In lane seven, a senior from Franklin Pierce, an indoor All-American in the 60 hurdles and the NE10 champion, CeCe Telfer.”

To the right of her, in lane eight, Southern Connecticut State’s Briana Burt clapped. The two had faced each other often in Northeast-10 Conference competition, and now they were side by side, about to race on Division II’s biggest stage. Burt reached her hand over to Telfer’s and gave it a squeeze.

“Take your mark.”

Telfer stepped up to the starting block, hopped a few times, smacked her legs. She placed her hands at the line, whipped her braids back and settled into position.



Telfer shot out of the blocks and sped toward the first hurdle, just as she had visualized. One hurdle, two hurdles, three hurdles. A clamor from the stands seemed to grow louder with each jump.

Then, thwack. Telfer’s foot caught the top of the fourth hurdle, cutting into her momentum.

Telfer crossed the line in fifth in 13.56 seconds. The winner, Pittsburg State’s Courtney Nelson, finished  half a second faster.

It was not the finish Telfer wanted, but she had no time to dwell on it. In just under two hours, she’d take the line again for the 400 hurdles.

The NCAA’s approach to transgender athlete participation has its supporters and its critics — and many others who don’t know the regulations even exist. Of course, the more transgender athletes succeed at any level of sport, the more opinions are voiced, and the more policies across the board are pulled under a microscope.

In October, USA Swimming made its transgender athlete policy less stringent, allowing swimmers to compete in their self-identified gender category, at least until making a junior or senior national team. A few months later, USA Powerlifting moved in the opposite direction, banning transgender female athletes from women’s competitions.

At the international level, the IOC is reportedly considering following the IAAF and lowering its testosterone limit for transgender female athletes.

Even legendary female athletes have disagreed publicly on the subject of transgender women competing in sports. Tennis great Martina Navratilova, an advocate for gay rights, wrote an op-ed calling the idea of allowing transgender women to compete “insane, and it’s cheating.” Billie Jean King responded with a tweet, noting that Navratilova has long been an “LGBTQ champion” and “cares deeply for the transgender community.”

“However, instead of conjecture, let’s listen to the science behind transgender women competing fairly in women’s sports,” King tweeted. “Science is the true arbiter.”

This race was hers to lose. Telfer had won the 400-meter hurdles easily in the prelims two nights earlier, a fact that boosted her confidence as she stepped onto the track Saturday for her final event of the night at the Division II Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships — and the end of her college athletics career.

Photo of CeCe Telfer on podium

Telfer capped off her final season of college track in May with a national title in the Division II women’s 400-meter hurdles. Earlier in the day, she placed fifth in the 100-meter hurdles. “I felt so proud,” Telfer says. “I felt like, mission accomplished.” NCAA photos

Emerson directed her to go out hard the first 200 meters, forcing the rest of the field to push the pace to keep up. Wear them out early, then hang on.

Execute. Deliver. Number one.

The gun fired, and they were off.

The moment in Javelina Stadium was not one everyone would celebrate. Watching from the stands, Telfer’s teammate noticed a few spectators twist their faces in disgust. Hugo Arlabosse responded with cheers. “That’s my teammate!”

Telfer grimaced as she rounded the final curve and willed her legs to keep churning down the stretch. She held a comfortable lead and just needed to hang on. Step by step, the finish line grew closer.



She raced over the line, a second and a half ahead of her closest competitor, the clock flashing a personal best time of 57.53.

Number one.

Turning toward the stands, Telfer saw no one but her coaches, teammates and therapist — her Ravens family — cheering. At last, she had conquered her largest hurdle.