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Transgender swimmer and NCAA champion Lia Thomas gives first exclusive on-camera interviews with ESPN and ABC News

  • Katie Barnes’ ESPN conversation debuted on Tuesday’s “Outside the Lines on SportsCenter”
  • Juju Chang’s interview with Thomas premiered on ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​andnight line

transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, the 2022 NCAA 500 freestyle champion from the University of Pennsylvania, took part in an exclusive interview with ESPN and ABC News — her first TV chat away from the pool since her controversial swimming season. Thomas spoke with both ESPNs Katie Barnes and co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline” Juju Chang to discuss her breakthrough championship, the scrutiny she underwent while swimming with the women’s team, and the aftermath of her swimming career.

Barnes and Chang’s interviews aired jointly on Tuesday, May 31 on the networks. On ESPN, Barnes’ “Outside The Lines” interview with Thomas aired in the “OTL on SC” segment during the Noon ET edition of sports center. Chang’s interview first aired on “Good Morning America” ​​and will air later tonight during “Nightline.”

In March, Thomas became the first known transgender athlete to win a Division I national championship in any sport. She qualified in three events at the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, touching the wall first in the 500 freestyle, finishing fifth in the 200 freestyle and eighth in the 100 freestyle.

While her performance in the pool was historic, dozens of people participated in demonstrations and counter-protests outside the McAuley Center on the Georgia Tech campus, opposing or supporting Thomas in her pursuit of a women’s title. the NCAA.

Prior to Tuesday’s exclusive, Thomas’ only other TV interview was a post-victory chat with ESPN swimming commentator and three-time Olympian Elizabeth Beisel. In this interviewThomas shared, “It means the world is here. I try to ignore [the distractions] as far as I can. I try to focus on my swimming, what I need to do to get ready for my races, and just try to block out everything else.

Katie Barnes (they) is an award-winning journalist covering the intersection of sport and gender. Their work has appeared on multiple ESPN platforms, including ESPN.com, “SportsCenter,” “Outside the Lines,” and the “ESPN Daily” podcast. Barnes has profiled women’s sports superstars and rising stars, from Maya Moore to Paige Bueckers and Azzi Fudd to Amanda Nunes. In addition to athlete profiles, Barnes has extensively covered legislation and policy affecting transgender athletes. In 2019, they were executive producers of the “30 for 30” short film Mack Wrestles, which told the story of transgender wrestler Mack Beggs as he graduated from high school and left home for college. Barnes is a three-time GLAAD nominee and his work has been recognized by Folio, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Curve Foundation. In 2017, they were named Journalist of the Year by NLGJA – The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. Barnes covered Thomas throughout the season and documented his performance at the national championship in Atlanta in March.

Juju Chang is the co-anchor of ABC News’ multiple Emmy Award-winning “Nightline.” She also regularly reports for “Good Morning America” ​​and “20/20.” Chang’s decades of reporting converged in two-hour primetime specials in 2021. She co-hosted an ABC News Live special “Stop The Hate: The Rise In Violence Against Asian Americans”; and after the mass shooting at three Asian-themed spas, Chang co-presented and reported from the scene for an ABC News20/20” breaking news special, “Murder In Atlanta,” which won a Front Page award in 2022.

Media contacts:
Amanda Brooks, ESPN
[email protected]

Brooks Lancaster, ABC News
[email protected]