Gavin Hubbard, who won records as a male weightlifter, claims to have transitioned to being a woman. Now, competing as Laurel Hubbard in his native New Zealand, he’s causing controversy by beating natural born female competitors.
Hubbard has now been approved to compete as a woman by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is set to compete in the Commonwealth Games, a competition that funnels competitors toward the Olympics. The IOC has proclaimed that Hubbard qualifies as a female competitor because of “acceptable” levels of testosterone.
The 39-year-old Hubbard won a gold medal quickly in the female categories. Competing at the heaviest 90 kg+ category, Hubbard won the gold medal with a 123 kg snatch and 145 kg clean & jerk, for a total of 268 kg at a bodyweight of 131.83 kg at the 2017 Australian International & Australian Open in Melbourne.
The greater-than-200-pound, or “+90kg category,” is considered the heaviest weights that female athletes can lift. On the other hand, it is only the upper middle class of weights for male competitors. Due to a natural male frame, musculature and skeletal configuration, Hubbard easily beat all female competitors at the Australian Open.
After trouncing his female opponents, Hubbard is now the first transgender competitor to take titles in both the men’s and women’s categories:
The easy win was not without controversy.
Michael Keelan, the Australian Weightlifting Federation’s chief executive officer, told the Associated Press that Hubbard had a clear and unfair physical advantage.
“If you’ve been a male and you’ve lifted certain weights, and then you suddenly transition to a female, then psychologically you know you’ve lifted those weights before,” Keeland told the AP. “I personally don’t think it’s a level playing field. That’s my personal view, and I think it’s shared by a lot of people in the sporting world.”
One of Hubbard’s teammates also questions the decision to allow the transgender athlete to compete as a woman.
While she said would support Hubbard as a teammate, Tracey Lambrechs said that Hubbard has an unfair advantage.
“I feel there is an unfair advantage even though it is within the regulations. All I can hope is that they look into it and make a more educated judgment,” Lambrechs said.
Lambrechs also took action by quitting her competition in the upper weight categories because she knew she could not compete against Hubbard.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.