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Transgender cyclist subject to threats as sport grapples with policies

A transgender cyclist in the United Kingdom received “threats of physical violence” after prime minister Boris Johnson said in April he doesn’t think “biological males should be competing in female sporting events.”

Emily Bridges, who told ITV she expected the threats after Johnson’s comments, has been unable to compete in women’s races since British Cycling suspended its trans and nonbinary inclusion policy in April.

“It’s really strange to see probably the most famous man in Britain talking about you and having an opinion on something that he doesn’t know anything about,” Bridges told ITV in an interview published Tuesday. “The response after that was as expected, I had threats of physical violence made against me by complete strangers online.

“People are entitled to hold an opinion about it, but there’s a way to go about voicing that opinion — and threatening to kneecap me is not that way.”

The 21-year-old had competed in men’s races until earlier this year, winning the last one she entered in February at the British Universities’ Championships.

“Immediately after I came off the track, I was like, ‘I kind of wish I hadn’t done that,'” she said, anticipating the backlash that would come from winning her final men’s race.

She then entered her first women’s race, with the blessing of British Cycling and in line with the organization’s inclusion policy. Before the race, though, she was told she could not compete in the race, and BC later suspended its inclusion policy.

“We sincerely apologise for the uncertainty caused by the suspension of our policy, particularly for the transgender and non-binary communities and women in our sport, and we will be actively engaging with these communities as part of our policy review,” a British Cycling spokesperson told ITV.

American cyclist Molly Cameron, 45, has long dealt with changing inclusion policies in cycling, as outlined in a feature for Bicycling magazine.

Cameron started hormone replacement therapy in 1999 and signed up for women’s starting in the early 2000s, but she had to quit after the IOC adopted a policy in 2003 that required transgender athletes to undergo gender reassignment surgery to compete.

“It was that simple,” Cameron said on the “Breakfast with Boz” podcast. “It was pretty heartbreaking, and I quit. I stepped back from racing.”

Eventually, she missed racing so much that she started competing in men’s races, but then came another hurdle: In 2015, she was told that as a woman she could not enter the men’s race at the Cyclocross National Championships.

“It was a little bit like the Wild West at the time,” said Cameron’s former coach Adam Myerson. “She didn’t have a path to follow, and neither did cycling.”

That IOC policy altered its policy again in 2015, removing the requirement for surgery and instead mandating hormone replacement therapy and specific testosterone limits. And in November 2021, the IOC again went back to the drawing board, this time recommending that sports organizations move away from testosterone limits.

Amid all the changes, and particularly in response to anti-trans sports bills that started gaining steam in the United States, Cameron created an organization called RIDE in 2021 that advocates for LGBTQ+ communities in cycling.

Bridges, too, sees her goal as making the sport better for those that come after her.

“I’ve got the opportunity and I’ve got to keep going and I feel like I’ve got the strength to keep going, to make things better for the people that come after me,” she said. “That’s the goal to kind of make people feel more comfortable in who they are and to hopefully make cycling and sport a more welcoming place.

“Not just for trans people, not just for LGBT people, but for everyone — because sport is, from what I’ve seen, not an inclusive space.”

Caitlin Clark dunks on Michael Che in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports.

It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation. Clark finished her segment by shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing Che a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her last playful dig of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns, in uncharted territory, start NWSL season winless

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the NWSL season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage over the weekend to remain winless through their first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before.

Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 

She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, attention turns to head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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