The World Croquet Federation (WCF) saw history made over the summer when Australian Jamie Gumbrell beat out a former champion to become the first transgender female to win a world title.
Gumbrell’s win sparked fury among female competitors as they said they did not realize a biological male would be a part of the competition until they arrived for the tournament in England, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
“There was a huge amount of disquiet,” said Sue Lightbody, a member of the England team. “But nobody was prepared to say or do anything. I was quite sick about the situation.
“We thought it would go against us, that we wouldn’t be picked for another team. Everything was hush-hush, everyone was worried about being called transphobic. People told me not to get involved, saying, ‘Don’t do anything, you’ll make yourself very unpopular’. But this just shouldn’t happen. It fundamentally isn’t fair.”
Gumbrell defeated England’s Rachel Gee in the final. Gee was a European Golf Croquet champion in 2014 and 2018 and won the World Women’s Golf Croquet Championship in 2011.
A fellow female competitor told the outlet they “felt sorry” for Gee.
“We never thought we would have this problem,” the person said. “I really felt sorry in the final for Rachel, who at the end was hiding behind her sunglasses because she was crying. She didn’t complain. She had been training so hard to be the women’s world champion, and then someone born male comes and takes it away.”
Gumbrell competed in male competitions as early as 2019 and was even seen as a rising star in the sport. The Victorian Croquet Association Inc. wrote on a Facebook post in February 2019 that Gumbrell finished in third in a prestigious tournament.
However, The Telegraph reported that Gumbrell identified as a female after the country re-opened and sports returned following the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2020, Gumbrell won Croquet Australia’s GC Under 21 Championships Singles and the GC Under 21 Championships Doubles with a relative.
The WCF published its transgender inclusion policy in April 2022.
“Any player wishing to compete in a WCF Event should only apply for events that are open to all genders or that are intended for the gender identity that they persistently and consistently use,” the eligibility section reads.
WCF President Ian Burridge defended the policy to The Telegraph.
“The fact that Jamie was assigned male at birth is not disputed by anyone,” Burridge said. “Jamie now identifies as female as her entry into the world championships was determined in accordance with our policy, approved by our members in April 2022. We welcome feedback, given the concerns that exist around speaking out in this area.”
Lightbody argued that males inherently have an advantage in the game.
“A key shot in golf croquet is the jump shot,” Lightbody said. “If you’re on the boundary, you can jump over a couple of balls and get through a hoop. I can only do mid-jumps, I can’t do one from the baseline. But Jamie can. That is a huge advantage over a woman.”
Croquet Australia did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.