Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has been etched into sporting history after winning two medals at this year’s weightlifting world championships.
She becomes the first competitor from New Zealand to win a medal for her country after she took home two silver medals in the women’s 90kg-plus division snatch category in Anaheim, California.
Hubbard pulled off her best lift at 124kg in the snatch catergory and she notched the fourth-best lift at 151kg in the clean and jerk. This gave her a combined total of 275kg which earned her a second silver medal.
Hubbard was of course aiming for gold, like all true competitors should, and she came close as she attempted to lift the bar at 127kg but she couldn’t get it completely above her head, falling short of her personal best of 131kg which she set last year.
However she did match her PB in the clean and jerk, furthermore her overall at last Wednesday at this year’s World Championships which would’ve ranked her fifth at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Last month Hubbard qualified for the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in the Gold Coast, Australia next year in April, becoming the first transgender athlete from New Zealand to qualify for the games.
Hubbard was once a top male competitor in weightlifting and has since garnered worldwide attention when she began competing in the women’s division.
Although Hubbard’s presence is breaking down barriers within the sport it does come with detractors. One of her most vocal critics is Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan who believes her inclusion at next year’s game would create an ‘uneven playing field’.
In public statement to The Sydney Morning Herald Keelan said:
We’re in a power sport which is normally related to masculine tendencies … where you’ve got that aggression, you’ve got the right hormones, then you can lift bigger weights,” he said.
If you’ve been a male and you’ve lifted certain weights, then you suddenly transition to a female, psychologically you know you’ve lifted those weights before.
Hubbard was required to show her testosterone levels were below a certain level for 12 months before she was eligible to compete for her country.
The trans community’s role within various sports has been garnering a positive response, the sporting fraternity is not only beginning to recognise their presence but also celebrating their achievements as athletes. One notable athlete is pro golfer Mianne Bagger.
In 2004 she played in the Women’s Australian Open and became the first openly transitioned woman to play in a professional golf tournament.
Perhaps the most famous athlete, retired or still competing, is Caitlyn Jenner, before marrying ex-wife Kris and the head of the Jenner/Kardashian household, she was an Olympic Gold medal winning athlete who competed in the decathlon at the 1976 Games in Montreal.