Laurel Hubbard: Transgender weightlifter likely to retire after Olympic exit

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has revealed she is likely to retire after crashing out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games yesterday.

The New Zealander made history yesterday after becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete in a different gender category at the Olympics.

She struggled to make a mark in the women's over-87 kilogram division, however, failing to record a single lift in the snatch. This knocked her out of contention for a medal, and she did not go on to compete in the clean and jerk.

China’s world record holder Li Wenwen was the gold medallist, while Emily Campbell of Great Britain earned silver and Sarah Robles of the United States took bronze.

The 43-year-old Hubbard has now suggested she will retire soon, revealing her age had caught up with her and the physical challenge of training and competing had become too demanding.

Hubbard played down her role in history, saying she hoped "any significance to this occasion is diminished by things to come."

"What I hope is, if I am in a position to look back, that this will just be a small part of history, just a small step."

Hubbard added: "As we move into a new and more understanding world, people are starting to realise that people like me are just people. We are human and as such I hope that just by being here is enough.

"All I have ever wanted as an athlete, is to be regarded as an athlete."

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Who is Laurel Hubbard?

Hubbard transitioned from male to female in 2012. Prior to her transition, she had competed in domestic men’s competitions and was a national record holder as a junior. She quit weightlifting in 2001 at the age of 23.

Hubbard returned to weightlifting as a woman, contesting her first international event in 2017. She earned a world silver medal in the over-90kg division that year, but suffered a serious elbow injury at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Despite fearing her career was over, Hubbard battled back and won a gold medal at the 2019 Pacific Games.

She qualified for Tokyo 2020 after meeting the eligibility standards set by the International Olympic Committee, and has been praised for her "courage and tenacity" to take to the stage in the Japanese capital.

Are there other transgender athletes competing at the Olympics?

There are two other "out" trans athletes competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Canadian footballer Quinn was born biologically female but now identifies as transgender, and uses the pronouns "they/them". Quinn has played five times for Canada in the women’s football tournament, and is now set to contest the gold-medal match against Sweden on Thursday.

BMX cyclist Chelsea Wolfe travelled to Tokyo as a reserve athlete but did not feature. Skateboarder Alana Smith, who identifies as non-binary, also competed in last week’s women’s street event.