New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has made history by becoming the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympic Games – but fell well short of a podium finish as she could not complete a lift.
Competing in the over-87kg category in Tokyo, Hubbard overbalanced on her opening weight of 120kg, taking the bar behind her shoulders.
Her second attempt of 125kg was ruled invalid on a majority decision by the referees.
The third try was similar to the first, ruling Hubbard out of medal contention.
Team GB’s Emily Campbell won silver, becoming the first British woman to win an Olympic weightlifting medal by lifting a total of 283kg.
She finished behind China’s Li Wenwen, who set a new Olympic record by lifting a total of 320kg. It was her country’s seventh victory in the sport at the Tokyo Games.
Bronze went to Sarah Robles of the US.
Hubbard’s controversial debut made her the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an individual sport in the 125-year history of the Games.
Upon exiting the competition, she said: “Of course, I’m not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation in these Games.
“And, as such, I’d particularly like to thank the IOC, for, I think, really affirming their commitment to the principals of Olympism, and establishing that sport is something for all people. It is inclusive. It is accessible.”
She 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,” as well as the people of Japan for host ing the Games during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She made a heart gesture to the audience with her hands as she left the competition arena.
The 43-year-old is almost twice the average age of her competitors and, having shifted 285kg during qualifying, was also one of the strongest in the field.
Athletes are eliminated if they fail to record at least one valid lift in each of the two parts of the competition.
Hubbard’s participation has been as divisive an issue as whether the Games should have even gone ahead during the global pandemic.
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