New Zealander Laurel Hubbard made history this Monday (2) by becoming the first transgender athlete to compete in an Olympics, but suffered an early elimination in the final of the women’s weightlifting event after three failed attempts.
At 43, Hubbard was the oldest 87kg competitor in Tokyo, where her inclusion sparked an intense debate about fairer conditions for women, gender identification and inclusion.
Hubbard was born a man and competed in weightlifting at the youth level. She made the gender transition eight years ago, resumed weightlifting and won the right to participate in the Games thanks to a 2015 International Olympic Committee (IOC) consensus that allowed transgender athletes to compete in women’s events.
But his historic participation in Monday’s competition only lasted 10 minutes, as his first three efforts failed.
Hubbard took the stage confidently, smiling amid the cheers of encouragement from an arena officially closed to spectators but accessible to fellow athletes and with a swarm of international journalists.
“I’m not entirely unaware of the controversy surrounding my participation in these Games,” Hubbard told reporters. “And for that, I particularly want to thank the IOC, as I think their commitment to the principles of Olympism and the demonstration that sport is something for everyone, inclusive and accessible is very affirming.”
* Additional reporting by Junko Fujita
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