Laurel Hubbard: First transgender athlete to compete at Olympics eliminated

2 August 2021, 14:51

Laurel Hubbard was the first the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Games
Laurel Hubbard was the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Games. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics has fallen short of a podium finish in Tokyo after failing to record a successful lift in the women's weightlifting.

Laurel Hubbard made history in Tokyo this morning when she stepped onto the stage in the women's 87+ kilogram event.

The New Zealander - who was considered a genuine medal contender - was eliminated following the snatch section of the competition.

The 43-year-old overbalanced on her opening weight of 120kg, taking the bar behind her shoulders.

Her second attempt of 125kg was ruled invalid by referees, and her third try was similar to the first - putting an end to her hopes of taking home a medal.

Prior to competing, Hubbard praised Olympics organisers for allowing her to compete in the women's category amid controversy over her inclusion.

Her debut made her the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an individual sport in the 125-year history of the Games.

Olympic adviser Dr Joanna Harper told LBC this morning that the weightlifter's testosterone levels allow "meaningful competition" with cisgender female athletes.

Tom Swarbrick asked Dr Harper: "Have the Olympic Committee got this wrong?"

"I think that testosterone levels probably should be lower than 10 nanomoles per litre," said Dr Harper, referring to the total testosterone limit that female transgender athletes are allowed to have in the Olympics.

"I was on a committee in 2017 that recommended five.

"It's absolutely true that lowering testosterone won't eliminate all the advantages accrued during male-type puberty, but it does mitigate them to the point where I believe that in most sports we can have meaningful competition between transgender and cisgender women."

Read more: Simone Biles pulls out of two more gymnastics finals in Tokyo

Hubbard did not take questions in the mixed zone following her elimination, but she read a statement.

"I know that from a sporting perspective I haven't really hit the standards that I put upon myself and perhaps the standards that my country has expected of me," she said.

"But one of the things for which I am profoundly grateful is that the supporters in New Zealand have given me so much and have been beyond astonishing.

"I'd like to thank the New Zealand Olympic Committee, they have supported me through what have been quite difficult times.

"I know that my participation at these Games has not been entirely without controversy but they have been just so wonderful and I'm so grateful to them."

But while Hubbard came up short with her first three lifts, Team GB's Emily Campbell took home the silver medal.

As well as being Britain's first female weightlifting medallist, Campbell is also the first Brit to win a medal in the sport since 1984.