Transgender weightlifter floats retirement after flopping at Olympic Games

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is strongly considering retirement after embarrassingly failing to complete a single lift at the Tokyo Olympic Games, sparking further heated debate over her participation in the women’s sport.

The 43-year-old athlete remarked, “Age has caught up with me. In fact, if we’re being honest it probably caught up with me some time ago.”

“My involvement in sport is probably due, if nothing else, to heroic amounts of anti-inflammatories, and it’s probably time for me to start thinking about hanging up the boots and concentrating on other things in my life,” she commented. “I’m not sure that a role model is something I could ever aspire to be, instead I hope that just by being I can provide some sense of encouragement.”

Hubbard transitioned in 2012 and was competing in the 87 kg+ weightlifting category for New Zealand. She made history as the first openly transgender to compete in a solo event but flopped when it came crunch time. Her moment in the spotlight was extremely short-lived as she didn’t record a single valid “snatch” lift. Hubbard was widely expected to medal in the event.

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Hubbard overbalanced on her opening weight of 120 kg and took the bar behind her shoulders. Her second effort of 125 kg was ruled invalid by a majority decision among the referees, while her third attempt was almost a repeat of the first and ruled her out of medal contention.

“We’re human and, as such, I hope that just being here is enough to achieve a better understanding of the trans community,” Hubbard explained in a statement made to Kyodo. “As we move towards a new and more comprehensive world, people begin to realize that people like me are just people.”

The transgender athlete praised the International Olympic Committee for their “moral leadership” in adopting inclusive policies that allowed her to be part of the Games. They made amendments to the organization’s qualifying guidelines in 2015 that allowed trans athletes to compete in women’s events depending on their testosterone levels.

She commented, “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.”

Hubbard competed as a male weightlifter prior to transitioning. After flipping genders in 2012, she returned to the sport in 2017.

Following her selection for the Olympics, Hubbard said she was “grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders.”

She added, “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 [love] carried me through the darkness. The last eighteen months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common purpose. The mana [power/honor] of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride.”

The transitioned weightlifter was ranked 15th in the world and is the third oldest lifter in Olympic history.

The International Olympic Committee provided cover for the transgender weightlifter. Joanna Harper, who is an IOC advisor from Loughborough University, told Sky News, “Yes, Laurel has advantages – but within this group of 14 women that she is competing against, Laurel is probably somewhere in the middle of the pack. She could theoretically finish anywhere from third to 14th – and isn’t that sort of the definition of fair competition that a lot of things could potentially happen?”

Social media found it curious the Kiwi bombed out of the competition and many wondered why she was there to begin with:


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