Chelsea Wolfe will be traveling to the Tokyo Olympics with Team USA as an alternate on the BMX freestyle team — making history as the first trans athlete to go to the Olympics on the U.S. roster.
Wolfe, who is a reserve athlete, will only officially compete in the Summer Games if one of the other two qualifying riders — Hannah Roberts and Perris Benegas — drops out.
Wolfe qualified for the position last week after earning fifth place at the World Championships, reported OutSports.
In an Instagram post celebrating her barrier-breaking qualification, Wolfe noted the hard work and “so many obstacles” she’s overcome to “represent the United States as the alternate rider.”
“I’m so excited and honored to keep working so I’m ready to shred in Tokyo in case I’m needed,” Wolfe said. She congratulated Roberts and Benegas for being the official competition riders, saying: “I can’t wait to watch y’all crush it in the games and cheer you on.”
Wolfe, who began BMX riding at 6 years old, first competed freestyle in 2014 at the state level in Florida. After BMX freestyle was included as an event for the 2020 Olympics, she began working to compete internationally, according to the USA Cycling team website. In the 2019 season, she finished third at the U.S. National and Pan-American championships.
Wolfe’s historic qualification comes amid a wave of anti-trans bills being pushed by Republicans at the state level, many in a bigoted attempt to block trans kids from participating in sports.
“As a kid like any other I dreamed of one day becoming a professional athlete in my sport,” Wolfe wrote in an Instagram post earlier this week. “But as a young trans girl I feared that I would never be welcome as one of them. That a girl like me could never be a professional athlete.”
After searching for trans riders to look up to and not finding any, Wolfe said, she “was faced with the realization that the person who I needed to see when I was younger didn’t exist yet because I was yet to become her.”