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Laurel Hubbard exits the Tokyo Olympics, praises 'inclusive and accessible' Games

The 43-year-old has become the first trans woman to compete in the Olympics.

2021-08-02

Words: Alastair James; pictures:

Laurel Hubbard, the first transgender woman to compete in the Olympics has unfortunately exited the games after being unable to register a lift in her competition.

The 43-year-old from New Zealand was competing in the women’s weightlifting 87kg category.

China’s Li WenWen went on to claim gold, with Team GB’s Emily Campbell claiming silver and Team GB's first-ever medal in women's weightlifting.

"I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible"

Hubbard had three attempts in the snatch section - one at 120kg and two at 125kg – but was unable to register a lift. As she left the floor, she cupped her hands into a heart shape and thanked her fans.

The Metro reports her as saying following the exit: “I’m not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation at these Games, 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.”

"The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values. I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible."

Speaking in June following the announcement of her inclusion in the New Zealand team, Hubbard said: “I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders.

“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (Maori for 'love') carried me through the darkness.”

"Nobody has broken any rules"

Hubbard found herself at the centre of a polarised debate regarding her inclusion in the games. While her participation in the women’s category was compliant with the International Olympics Committee’s (IOC) 2015 guidelines, there have been some who said it was “unfair” for her to compete, including Belgian weightlifter Anna Van Bellinghen.

The guidelines stated athletes with testosterone levels below 10 nanomoles per litre for 12 months were allowed to compete.

But there were many who stood in Hubbard’s corner, including her Olympic competitor Emily Campbell, who said: "Nobody has broken any rules, everybody stuck to them and qualified fairly. You just have to compete against the girls who are out there. You can’t afford to let distractions get to you".

Last week the IOC praised Hubbard for her "courage and tenacity" in preparing for the games, with their medical and science director, Dr Richard Budgett, saying “everyone agrees that trans women are women”.

However, on Friday (30 July) Budgett also indicated that changes to the rules around trans athletes were imminent as the science since the 2015 guidelines were issued had moved on. He also maintained that inclusion was key to sport.

Congrats to Laurel! 

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