Gold Coast (Australia) (AFP) – A transgender weightlifter from New Zealand said she had “no regrets” on Monday after her historic appearance at the Commonwealth Games ended with a painful injury.
Laurel Hubbard, 40, was leading the women’s +90kg category but when she attempted a Games-record snatch of 132kg, her left elbow agonisingly gave way.
Gold medal favourite Hubbard, the first transgender athlete to compete at the Games, said she thought she may have ruptured a ligament in her elbow.
“I have no regrets about the attempts that I made because I believe that to be true to sport, you really have to try to be the best that you can. I’m happy with the decisions that were made,” she said.
“It wouldn’t be true if I said I wasn’t unhappy at the moment but the nature of sport means that things don’t always go your way and it is what it is,” added Hubbard.
Hubbard’s presence had been criticised by some officials from rival countries, but she received a huge roar of support when she was introduced to the crowd.
“I think you have to be true to yourself and I hope in this case that’s what I’ve done,” said the New Zealander.
Born Gavin Hubbard, she represented New Zealand in male weightlifting events before transitioning to female in her 30s.
At last year’s world championships she won two silvers in the women’s +90kg category, becoming New Zealand’s first medallist in the competition.
“The crowd was absolutely magnificent. I felt (it was) just like a big embrace and I wanted to give them something that reflected the best I could do, and my only real regret today was that I was unable to show them,” Hubbard said.
– Saving grace –
Samoa’s Feagaiga Stowers, second behind Hubbard before her injury, took gold with a total lift of 253kg, ahead of Charisma Amoe-Tarrant from Nauru and England’s Emily Campbell.
According to reports, Samoan coach Jerry Wallwork earlier took issue with Hubbard, saying she had an unfair advantage and adding: “A man is a man and a woman is a woman.”
It follows similar criticism from Australian weightlifting chief Mike Keelan.
Asked whether she had been anxious about getting a rough reception at the Games in Gold Coast, Hubbard said: “It would be untrue to say that the thought never crossed my mind.
“But there’s no indication at all today that they were anything other than absolutely fantastic, a real credit to the Australian people and also the broader sporting community.”
Fellow competitors also rallied behind the injured weightlifter.
“I was actually a bit upset to see her forfeit out of the competition because I would like to see where her weight is at. But next time,” said silver medallist Amoe-Tarrant.
“I actually don’t have a problem with her competing, she is just a new challenge to try and overcome,” the 18-year-old told AFP.
Bronze medallist Emily Campbell also said she had no concerns competing against a transgender athlete.
“She qualified in her own right like all the rest of the girls and it was great to compete against her again,” Campbell told AFP.
Hubbard became eligible to compete as a woman after showing testosterone levels below the International Olympic Committee threshold.
“It’s very, very clear that Laurel is eligible to compete as a woman in accordance with the existing rules and we respect that right for her to compete,” Games chief executive David Grevemberg said earlier.