Tokyo 2020: New Zealand weightlifter Hubbard becomes first transgender Olympian, but exits early

Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, but she had an early exit.

Laurel Hubbard reacts after dropping the barbell in a lift in the women's +87kg weightlifting event at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Monday.   -  AP

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, but she suffered disappointment with an early exit from the women's +87 kg final after three no lifts in the snatch.

At 43, Hubbard was the oldest competitor in the weightlifting event in Tokyo, in which her inclusion had ignited a fierce debate about fairness for women and about gender identification and inclusivity.

Hubbard was born male but transitioned eight years ago and resumed weightlifting after a long stint away from the sport.

She had been tipped for a medal in Tokyo having won a world championship silver in 2017 and Oceania championship gold in 2019.

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But her competition was over within 10 minutes of her first attempt, with no lifts in her first three efforts. She cleared the bar above her head in the second effort, celebrating with clenched fists amid loud cheers before the attempt was declared a no-lift.

Hubbard took no questions from reporters after her exit but in brief comments thanked Japan for its hosting of the contest and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its role in what she said was making sport accessible to all.

"I'm not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation at these Games," Hubbard said.

"And as such, I would particularly like to thank the IOC, for I think really affirming its commitment to the principles of Olympism and establishing that sport is something for all people, that it is inclusive and is accessible."

Hubbard's appearance drew a swarm of international media to the contest venue, with more than triple the attendance seen so far in the arena for the weightlifting competition.

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A medal would have made her the oldest weightlifter to reach an Olympic podium.

She was eligible to compete in the Games since 2015, when the IOC issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels were under 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

In a statement read on her behalf at an IOC briefing on her inclusion last week, Hubbard thanked the IOC "for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible".

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