One of British cycling's most promising riders comes out as transgender after giving up on 2024 Olympics dream
Women Riders Participate in Women's Keirin Race in Track Cycling - One of the most promising young riders in British cycling emerges as transgender after abandoning dream of the 2024 Olympics - GETTY IMAGES
One of the most promising young drivers in the UK men's squad emerged transgender after abandoning his dream of the 2024 Olympics.
Emily Bridges, formerly Zach, announced her news on Coming Out Day barely a year after winning the Men's Individual Pursuit at the National Junior Track Championships.
Bridges, who is now studying French and Politics at Nottingham University, said she went public in hopes of inspiring other young people with gender dysmorphism.
"Cycling still has a long way to go to represent all kinds of diversity," she said in a statement to Sky Sports. "We need to encourage more people with a BAME background, more women, disabled people and LGBTQ + people to ride a bike. I hope that I can do a small part in changing the culture for the better and encouraging people in the sports world to become to be yourself. ""
The 19-year-old from the town of Cwmbran, Wales, joined the National Junior Academy after winning a silver medal in the Juniors in 2017.
A year later, Bridges became Britain's first junior cyclist to break the 48-minute mark for a 25-mile time trial, setting a national junior record of 47 minutes and 27 seconds.
Bridges finished fourth in the Individual Pursuit at the Junior World Championships last year before suffering form collapse and emotional health.
She attributed this struggle to her gender dysmorphism. "I spent a lot of time alone and I would keep thinking about how unhappy I was," she said. "Much of it was related to my body image. I knew deep down that my hatred of my body - more precisely, of its masculinity - was not normal for a cis-man."
However, Bridges continued cycling through the winter and joined the UK Seniors Academy's program to prepare riders for the 2024 Olympics. It was only canceled in August. The coaches said Bridges "no longer had the potential".
The timing gave Bridges enough time to successfully apply to the university where she performed as a transgender woman. After revealing her identity to the sports world, she has now agreed to take part in a research program to examine the impact of the transition process on performance at the elite level.
"As far as I know, this will be the first time a top international athlete has done this," she said. "I understand this will be extremely useful research. I really want to show the effects hormone replacement therapy has on the body."
Julie Harrington, British Cycling General Manager, said: "On behalf of British Cycling, I would like to express our full support to Emily. Coming out is an important moment in her life that we celebrate with her and we wish her all the best for the future. "
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