In a historic first, a new Nike ad features the first transgender athlete on the US national team

Making strides.
Making strides.
Image: Nike/Wieden + Kennedy Portland
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The first openly transgender athlete on a US national team is being honored by Nike, in a new commercial timed to the Rio Olympics.

The 30-second spot follows duathlete Chris Mosier as he runs over bridges, pedals on the bike, and trains in the gym. “How’d you know you’d be fast enough, or strong enough to compete against men?” asks a voiceover narrator. “How’d you know the team would accept you? Or that you’d even be allowed to compete? Did you ever just want to give up?”

“Yeah,” Mosier responds, without breaking stride. “But I didn’t.”

The ad is the athletic apparel brand’s first to feature an openly transgender athlete, Nike said.

Mosier is not competing in the Rio Olympics because the duathlon, which consists of running and cycling, is not an Olympic sport. But he hopes he can still inspire other athletes.

Mosier made the US men’s national team when he qualified in the sprint duathlon national championships in 2015. This year, he represented the US at the Sprint Duathlon World Championship in Spain, where he placed 26 out of 47 men in the 35-39 age group.

The New York resident started competing in duathlons and triathlons in 2009 after finishing his first marathon. That was around the time he began transitioning. Mosier said in a statement to Nike that he began the transition five or six years ago.

“Being the first trans man on a US men’s national team was a dream come true for me,” said Mosier. “To represent our country at the highest level, in my sport, is just outstanding. It’s just such an amazing opportunity—and an amazing opportunity for other people to see themselves reflected in someone succeeding in sports as a trans man.”

Mosier has also been an advocate for trans inclusion in sports. The athlete reportedly played a role in pushing the International Olympic Committee to adjust its guidelines to allow transgender athletes to compete without first having to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Unfortunately, controversy remains around trans people on the international stage. Neither of the two reported transgender athletes competing in the Rio games have come out publicly, the Washington Post reported, while there are at least 40 openly gay and lesbian athletes competing.

Nike’s new ad is part of its ”Unlimited” series, which began rolling out in August. The spot starring Mosier, created by Wieden + Kennedy Portland, debuted during NBC’s primetime Olympic coverage on Monday, Aug. 8.