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Weightlifting: New Zealand's Hubbard becomes first openly transgender Olympian, but exits early

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday (Aug 2) by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, but she suffered disappointment with an early exit from the women's +87kg final after three no lifts in the snatch.

Weightlifting: New Zealand's Hubbard becomes first openly transgender Olympian, but exits early

Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand in action during the Tokyo Olympics women's +87kg weightlifting competition at the Tokyo International Forum on Aug 2, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Chris Graythen)

TOKYO: New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday (Aug 2) by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, but she suffered disappointment with an early exit from the women's +87kg final after three no lifts in the snatch.

At 43, Hubbard was the oldest competitor in the weightlifting event in Tokyo, in which her inclusion had ignited a fierce debate about fairness for women and about gender identification and inclusivity.

Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand in action during the Tokyo Olympics women's +87kg weightlifting competition at the Tokyo International Forum on Aug 2, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Edgard Garrido)

Hubbard was born male but transitioned eight years ago and resumed weightlifting after a long stint away from the sport.

She had been tipped for a medal in Tokyo, having won a world championship silver in 2017 and an Oceania championship gold in 2019.

But her competition was over within 10 minutes of her first attempt, with no lifts in her first three efforts. She cleared the bar above her head in the second effort, celebrating with clenched fists amid loud cheers before the attempt was declared a no lift.

READ: Transgender weightlifter becomes focus of inclusion vs fairness debate

READ: Transgender athlete Hubbard thanks IOC for Games inclusion

Hubbard took no questions from reporters after her exit, but in brief comments thanked Japan for its hosting of the contest and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its role in what she said was making sport accessible to all.

"I'm not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation at these Games," Hubbard said.

"And as such, I would particularly like to thank the IOC, for I think really affirming its commitment to the principles of Olympism and establishing that sport is something for all people, that it is inclusive and is accessible."

Hubbard's appearance drew a swarm of international media to the contest venue, with more than triple the attendance seen so far in the arena for the weightlifting competition.

A medal would have made her the oldest weightlifter to reach an Olympic podium.

She had been eligible to compete in the Games since 2015, when the IOC issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided that their testosterone levels were under 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

In a statement read on her behalf at an IOC briefing on inclusion last week, Hubbard thanked the IOC for "for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible".

Catch the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 LIVE with 14 dedicated channels on meWATCH. Sign in now at mewatch.sg/tokyo2020 and get into the action with Mediacorp, Singapore’s Olympics Network. 

Source: Reuters/kg

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