Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has crashed out of the Olympic weightlifting 87kg event after failing to register a single lift in the snatch.
The New Zealander is the first openly transgender athlete to compete in a different gender category at the Olympics, which has sparked a flurry of debate.
Hubbard was expected to contend for a medal in this event, but her failure in the snatch meant she could not progress to the clean and jerk, subsequently missing out on a place on the podium.
The 43-year-old is ranked seventh in the IWF’s 87kg division and has a personal best in the snatch of 132kg. Yet, one attempt at 120kg and two at 125kg were all unsuccessful.
With the International Olympics Committee set to update its policy on transgender involvement in its sports, Hubbard reacted to her exit by making a heart-shaped hand signal.
Critics had claimed Hubbard had an unfair advantage, having transitioned from a man aged 35, but the weightlifter was nowhere near her best as the occasion clearly seemed to have an impact on her performance.
For her first try, Hubbard’s 120kg attempt did go over her head, however, the bar then went behind her back, causing the judges to rule it out. Her two subsequent attempts at 125kg then failed to go over her head, rendering her competition over.
Hubbard did not take questions in the mixed zone afterwards but did read a statement, which said:
“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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, China’s Li Wenwen set a new Olympic record in the snatch and the clean and jerk –– claiming gold with a combined score of 320kg.
There was also more success for Team GB as Emily Cambell won silver to land Britain’s first-ever women’s Olympic weightlifting medal.
Campbell went into the clean and jerk section of the event in fourth, but lifts of 156kg and then 161kg sealed a historic podium finish, ahead of the USA’s Sarah Robles.
The 27-year-old won bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and became an even stronger medal contender this year when she won the European Championships in Moscow.