Transgender runner, 49, wins bronze medal in the women’s 400m at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris
- Valentina Petrillo won a bronze medal at the World Para Athletics Championships
A transgender runner won a bronze medal in the women’s 400m race at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris.
Valentina Petrillo’s place on the podium meant Moroccan Fatima Ezzahra El-Idrissi was left without a medal during the T12 final for athletes with visual impairments.
The 49-year-old Italian runner’s victory drew some condemnation from other track and field athletes.
Peter Eriksen, Canada’s former Olympic coach, called the result “shocking”, while the third fastest British marathon runner, Mara Yamauchi, said The Telegraph: ‘How many 49-year-olds would win medals at the world level?’
But Petrillo told the BBC: “It’s better to be a slow, happy woman than a fast, unhappy man.” I don’t feel like she’s stealing anything from anyone.
Valentina Petrillo won a bronze medal at the World Para Athletics Championships on July 13
Petrillo was 18 years older than any other competitor within the race
The runner was 18 years older than any other competitor within the race.
El-Edrissi, who placed fourth, is 27 years old, silver medalist Alejandra Pérez López of Venezuela is 25 and gold medalist Omara Durand of Cuba is 31.
Petrillo competed in men’s national races before making the transition in 2019. The athlete was born with Stargardt disease, a degenerative eye condition with no cure.
After the transition, the runner won the women’s 100, 200 and 400 meter races at the Italian Paralympic championships.
Petrillo had hoped this would result in a spot at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021, but the Italian Association for Sports for the Disabled refused to award a nomination.
He did not publicly give reasons for the decision, but the Telegraph reported that he had come under intense pressure from the athlete’s fellow competitors.
Earlier this year, when Petrillo won a women’s 200m race in Ancona, Cristina Sanulli, who finished second, said: ‘We don’t feel the same because Petrillo’s physical build is masculine. So we’re not running at par. Although the personal path that Valentina has taken is respectable, she is not, sportingly speaking, and for this reason we feel very discriminated ”.
According to The World Para Athletics guidelines, “an athlete shall be eligible to compete in women’s competition if she is recognized by law as female.”
Petrillo transitioned in 2019. Petrillo’s wife supported the athlete’s transition and they remain married and living together with their two children.
It adds, however, that cases involving transgender athletes will be reviewed in accordance with International Olympic Committee guidelines.
Petrillo’s wife supported the athlete’s transition and they remain married and living together with their two children.
In 2021, Petrillo, who is just under 5 feet 10 inches tall and 13 pounds heavier than he was before transition. The 49-year-old’s times are slower than before the transition despite taking home gold in the T12 100, 200 and 400 meter events at the national championships.
The athlete has also previously reported side effects including anemia, mood swings and feeling physically weaker.
“I understand the doubts, but I don’t think I have an advantage,” Petrillo said in 2020. “My returns have mercilessly dropped.”