IOC Praises First Transgender Weightlifting Olympian Ahead Of Her Debut

by : Hannah Smith on : 29 Jul 2021 12:31
IOC Praises First Transgender Weightlifting Olympian Ahead Of Her DebutPA Images/@NorthSportOlympicWeightlifting/Facebook

The International Olympic Committee has praised Laurel Hubbard’s ‘courage and tenacity’ as she prepares to become the first transgender weightlifter to compete at the Olympics.

Speaking ahead of Hubbard’s competition debut on Monday, August 2, IOC medical and science director Dr Richard Budgett also pushed back against criticism of the decision to allow trans women to compete in women’s sports, declaring ‘everyone agrees that trans women are women.’


Hubbard will be the first openly transgender athlete in her sport and only the second ever to compete at an Olympic Games, after non-binary Canadian footballer Quinn became the first earlier this week.

Laurel Hubbard (PA Images)PA Images

‘Laurel Hubbard is a woman, and is competing under the rules of her federation, and we have to pay tribute to her courage and tenacity in actually competing and qualifying for the Games,’ Budgett said per The Guardian, while admitting he believed the issue of transgender participation in sports was ‘large, difficult and complex.’

The 42-year-old New Zealand heavyweight lifter has been praised as a trailblazer by trans rights campaigners, but has also faced huge opposition by those who believe she has an unfair advantage over cis women having gone through male puberty.


‘It’s not simple,’ said Budgett of the question of trans participation in sports. ‘I think each sport has to make their own assessment depending on the physiology of that sport, so that they can ensure that there is fair competition, but also the inclusion of everyone – whether they’re male or female – so they are able to take part in the sport they love.’

Laurel Hubbard will compete in Tokyo (PA Images)PA Images

Hubbard’s inclusion in the Olympics has divided her fellow competitors, with rival heavyweight weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen telling Inside The Games last month her participation was ‘unfair to the sport and to the athletes.’

However, Hubbard herself has previously pushed back on the suggestion that trans women enjoy an unfair advantage, suggesting that the fact she was the first to qualify despite trans athletes having been allowed to compete at the Olympics since 2003 ‘indicates that perhaps some of the problems that people are suggesting aren’t perhaps what they might seem.’


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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Sport, Laurel Hubbard, LGBTQ+, Now, Olympics, Tokyo Olympics, Weightlifting


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    IOC praises weightlifter Laurel Hubbard before transgender athlete’s Olympic debut