Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard finally got to compete at the Tokyo Olympics. It didn’t last long, but it was significant. Hubbard couldn’t complete any of her first three lifts on Monday night, ruling her out of medal contention in the women’s over-87-kilogram division that ultimately was won by China’s Li Wenwen.
Hubbard made a heart gesture to the audience with her hands before leaving the competition arena. Even without completing a lift, she was a pioneer for transgender athletes. While the New Zealander isn’t the only transgender athlete competing at the Tokyo Games, she has been out for years and has been the focus of attention as a medal contender in weightlifting.
“Of course, I’m not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation in these Games,” Hubbard said after exiting the competition. “And, as such, I’d particularly like to thank the IOC, for, I think, really affirming their commitment to the principles of Olympism, and establishing that sport is something for all people. It is inclusive. It is accessible.”
Hubbard also thanked the International Weightlifting Federation, because “they too have shown that weightlifting is an activity that’s open to all of the people in the world,” and the people of Japan for hosting the Games under extraordinary circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who is Laurel Hubbard?
Born in February 1978, the weightlifter hails from Auckland, New Zealand.
Her father, Dick Hubbard, was a wealthy cereal company magnate and briefly served as Auckland’s mayor from 2004 to 2008. Hubbard revealed she took up “an archetypally male” sport in a bid to feel more masculine.