Laurel Hubbard Biography, Wiki | Laurel Hubbard Makes History At Tokyo Olympics

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Who is Laurel Hubbard?

Laurel Hubbard, born 9 February 1978, is a New Zealand weightlifter. Selected to compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Laurel Hubbard was the first openly transgender woman to compete in weightlifting at the Olympic Games. Laurel Hubbard is ranked seventh in the IWF’s women’s +87 kg division.

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard makes history at Tokyo Olympics

Laurel hubbard makes history at olympics
Laurel Hubbard

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard finally got to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

It didn’t last long, but it was significant. Hubbard couldn’t complete any of her first three lifts on Monday night, ruling her out of medal contention in the women’s over-87-kilogram division that ultimately was won by China’s Li Wenwen.

Hubbard made a heart gesture to the audience with her hands before leaving the competition arena.

Even without completing a lift, she was a pioneer for transgender athletes.

Hubbard received applause and also applauded her fellow athletes when they were introduced on stage. Returning to compete, she took a moment to close her eyes, smile, and take a deep breath. She overbalanced on her opening weight of 120 kilograms, taking the bar behind her shoulders.

Her second effort of 125 kilograms — a weight Hubbard has often managed in previous competitions — was ruled invalid on a majority decision by the referees. With New Zealand teammates and staff calling out encouragement, the third attempt was almost a repeat of the first.

Athletes are eliminated if they do not record at least one valid lift in each of the two parts of the competition.

Laurel Hubbard Biography, Wiki

In 2017, Hubbard told an interviewer that she began participating in weight lifting when she was living as a male because she hoped it would enable her to become masculine.

In January 2019, Hubbard pleaded guilty to careless driving causing injury after an incident in October 2018 which left another driver with severe spinal injuries. Hubbard was discharged without conviction on the grounds that the incident was her first offense and she showed remorse. She was ordered to pay $13,000 in reparations and was disqualified from driving for one month. 

The presiding judge also ordered that Hubbard’s name be suppressed to avoid distressing publicity as she trained for the Olympics. However, the order was lifted in July 2019 after the media company Stuff appealed to the High Court.

Hubbard rarely gives interviews to the media. Commenting on the criticism she receives for participating in women’s weightlifting as a transgender athlete, Hubbard told Stuff news website in 2017, “All you can do is focus on the task at hand and if you keep doing that it, it will get you through. I’m mindful I won’t be supported by everyone but I hope that people can keep an open mind and perhaps look at my performance in a broader context.

Perhaps the fact that it has taken so long for someone like myself to come through indicates that some of the problems that people are suggesting aren’t what they might seem.

Laurel Hubbard Professional Career

Laurel Hubbard’s father is Dick Hubbard, a former Mayor of Auckland City and the founder of Hubbard Foods.

Competing before coming out as transgender, Hubbard set New Zealand junior records in 1998 in the newly established M105+ division with snatch 135 kg, clean & jerk 170 kg, total 300 kg. Those records were later surpassed by David Liti. Hubbard has spoken against what she calls “one of the misconceptions that are out there” that she had been training all her life before she transitioned to female, stating that she ceased lifting in 2001, explaining, “it just became too much to bear … just the pressure of trying to fit into a world that perhaps wasn’t really set up for people like myself”.

In 2012, Hubbard transitioned to female and became Laurel Hubbard. She began hormone therapy that year. Hubbard competed in international weightlifting for the first time in 2017.

Laurel hubbard makes history at olympics

At the 2017 Australian International & Australian Open in Melbourne, she competed at the heaviest 90 kg+ categories, winning 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. 

She thus became the first trans woman to win an international weightlifting title for New Zealand. Although Hubbard met eligibility requirements to compete, her win sparked controversy, with some other competitors saying the competition was unfair. Athletes that were critical of the decision to allow Hubbard to compete include Iuniarra Sipaia, Toafitu Prive, Deborah Action, and Tracey Lambrecht. Australian Weightlifting Federation’s chief executive, Michael Keelan, said it was unfair to other competitors.

Hubbard qualified for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but an elbow injury during the competition forced her withdrawal from the event while leading the field. After the injury, Hubbard announced her probable retirement from weightlifting.

Laurel Hubbard later returned to the sport, winning two gold medals at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. The decision to allow Hubbard to compete was subsequently criticized by the Samoa 2019 chairman, Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio, and Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi.

In 2020, she won the gold medal in the women’s +87 kg event at the Roma 2020 World Cup in Rome, Italy.

Laurel Hubbard Olympic Qualification

On 21 June 2021, the New Zealand Olympic Committee confirmed that Laurel Hubbard had been selected for the New Zealand Olympic team to compete in the women’s 87-kilogram category, becoming the oldest weightlifter to qualify for the games. 

This decision resulted in Hubbard becoming the first openly transgender athlete to be selected to compete in weightlifting at the Olympic Games, though transgender athletes have been allowed to compete at the Olympics since 2004.

Hubbards’ selection was the subject of debate with the applicable International Olympic Committee guidelines being criticized by many scientists due to recently published papers claiming post-puberty trans women retain significant advantages after a year of testosterone suppression.

The IOC’s Medical and Scientific Director Richard Budgett commented that “residual advantage after going through male puberty” must be weighed against “all the other disadvantages of going through transition”, and advocated for more research. Researcher Joanna Harper noted that weightlifting is divided into weight categories and said “we don’t know for certain whether transgender women are pound for pound stronger than cisgender women”. 

Weightlifter Anna Van Bellingen and Tracey Lambrechs were unsupportive of Hubbard’s selection with Van Bellingen stating that the situation was “like a bad joke”. Charisma Amoe-Tarrant, who qualified in the same category, supported Hubbards’ participation. There were public expressions of support from New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, and sports minister Grant Robertson.

On 2 August 2021, Hubbard competed in the Women’s +87kg, placing last with three failed snatch lifts.

Who is Laurel Hubbard?

Laurel Hubbard is a New Zealand weightlifter.

Is Laurel Hubbard transgender?

Yes.

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