Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard gets Olympics ovation after early Tokyo 2020 exit

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, the first ever transgender Olympian, saw her Tokyo 2020 hopes end quickly after three failed lifts in the +87 super-heavyweight.

The 43-year-old lost control of her first attempt at 120kg, dropping the bar behind her. A second attempt appeared to be succesful at 125kg, but only one of the three judges agreed.

A third attempt at the snatch at 125kg was also unsuccessful, ruling Hubbard out of the final. She was met with a huge ovation upon her third and final attempt at the snatch and mouthed ‘thank you’ to the crowd and put her hands to her heart.

Hubbard’s inclusion had ignited a fierce debate about fairness for women and about gender identification and inclusivity having been 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.

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.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 last on inclusion last week, Hubbard thanked the IOC for "for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible".

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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