Laurel Hubbard becomes first transgender woman to compete in Olympics

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Hubbard’s three unsuccessful snatch attempts – one at 120kg and two at 125kg – saw her leave competition at the Tokyo International Forum. After her last attempt, she waved to the crowd and bowed before leaving the stage.

China’s world record holder Li Wenwen set three Olympic records by winning the gold medal, first lifting 140 kg in the snatch, then 180 kg in the clean and jerk to finish with a total of 320 kg.

A close battle for money was won by Briton Emily Campbell with a score of 283 kg. American Sarah Robles won bronze with 282 kg.

Hubbard has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued new guidelines allowing qualified women to compete in women’s events as long as their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at at least 12 months before their first competition.

There is debate in the scientific community as to whether androgenic hormones like testosterone are useful markers of athletic advantage.

Supporters of Hubbard’s inclusion in the Games hailed the move as a sign of respect for basic human rights, while critics questioned the fairness of transgender women in competition with cisgender women.

Laurel Hubbard competes in the women's 87kg weightlifting final.
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In 2018, the Australian Weightlifting Federation sought to bar Hubbard from competing at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, but organizers rejected the move, citing its compliance with IOC standards.

In order to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Hubbard, 43, had to overcome a serious elbow injury suffered at the Commonwealth Games. At the time, he was told his athletic career was probably over.

However, she recovered and secured her Olympic spot in June.

“I am not entirely unaware of the controversy surrounding my participation in these Games,” said Hubbard after competing on Monday.

“And as such, I would especially like to thank the IOC for having, I think, really affirmed its commitment to the principles of Olympism and for establishing that sport is something for everyone. It is inclusive. , accessible. ”

The IOC is set to review its guidelines for trans participation after the Tokyo Olympics, with Richard Budgett, the body’s medical and scientific director, saying last week: “It would have been inappropriate to come up with a new one. framework or new guidelines just before the Olympics. There will be a new framework, with the help of the international federations, but it is not yet published. ”

Hubbard is the first known transgender woman to compete in the Games, but there is another transgender athlete who competes in this year’s Olympics.

Hubbard’s entry into the history books comes with Canadian footballer Quinn, who is the first trans, non-binary athlete to compete in the Olympics. Quinn is also the first trans athlete to be assured of a medal at Tokyo 2020 after Canada’s semi-final victory over the United States on Monday.

Canadian midfielder Quinn (in red) is the first trans, non-binary athlete to compete in the Olympics.

Although fans were barred from attending Olympic events in Tokyo amid the pandemic, officials and team members shouted encouragement from the public for the women’s +87kg competition. The music played over the speakers between the competitor’s ski lifts also added to the mood of the event.

Li, 21, set the bar high with his three snatch lifts, the first of which was two kilograms heavier than any other athlete had done. She won the gold medal with her first successful lift of 162 kg in the clean and jerk and also managed her next two attempts at 173 kg and 180 kg.

Campbell had to do 161kg of clean and jerk to finish ahead of Robles for silver, and she let out a cry of glee when the lift was confirmed.

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