Meet Nikki Hiltz

Nikki Hiltz’s story is one of perseverance, self-discovery, and triumph. Born on October 23, 1994, in Aptos, California, Hiltz’s passion for middle-distance running was evident from an early age. They dominated high school track, winning six California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Central Coast Section titles in the 800 and 1600 meters, setting the stage for an impressive collegiate and professional career.

Nikki Hiltz holds there silver medal at the 2024 World Championships

Collegiate Success and Professional Career

Hiltz began their collegiate journey at the University of Oregon in 2014 before transferring to the University of Arkansas in 2016. Their time with the Oregon Ducks and Arkansas Razorbacks saw them become a six-time NCAA Division I All-American, with standout performances in the mile and 1500 meters. Highlights include a third-place finish in the mile at the 2018 NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships and earning First Team All-America honours in the 1500 meters at the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

In 2018, Hiltz signed with Adidas, marking the start of their professional career. They continued to excel, earning numerous titles and accolades, including a personal best of 4:01.52 in the 1500 meters at the 2019 World Athletics Championships. By 2022, Hiltz had signed with Lululemon and set the American record in the mile with a time of 4:16.35 at the Monaco Diamond League in 2023.

Hiltz at the USA Olympic Trials

Overcoming Obstacles

This success however wasn’t free of challenges. For years, Hiltz felt they had to hide their true self due to the gendered nature of sports. However, things began to change during the 2020 Virtual Pride 5K, an event Hiltz organized to connect the running and LGBTQ communities while raising funds for The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention nonprofit organization for LGBTQ+ young people. Inspired by participants who came out during the event, Hiltz decided to publicly embrace their identity.

On Transgender Day of Visibility in 2021, Hiltz came out as transgender and nonbinary, sharing their story in a personal essay on They described their gender identity as fluid, stating, “The best way I can explain my gender is fluid. Sometimes I wake up feeling like a powerful queen and other days I wake up feeling as if I’m just a guy being a dude, and other times I identify outside of the gender binary entirely.”

Hiltz in a field of flowers

Recent Achievements

Hiltz’s career continues to ascend with remarkable performances. In 2023, they won their first USATF Outdoor National Championship title in the 1500 meters. In 2024, Hiltz set a personal best and American Indoor Record in the 1000 meters and earned a silver medal in the 1500 meters at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

Impact Beyond the Track

Their journey from a high school standout to a global champion and advocate serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of embracing one’s true self. Hiltz recognizes the power of visibility and representation. They motivate themselves with the mantra: “If you win, you will be seen. The camera follows the athlete in the lead, the interview goes to the athlete who wins. And if that athlete is me, I know there is power in my being seen. Because representation is so important.” 

Hiltz crosses the line first at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships

Nikki’s Vision for the Future

With the USA Olympic Trials around the corner Nikki has their sites set on making the team that will be heading to Paris! Stay tuned for more inspiring stories in our “On Track to Paris” series as we continue to celebrate the incredible athletes who are making waves in track and field and paving the way for future generations.