Laurel Hubbard never wanted the attention that fell upon her. But as the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics, she is happy she was able to be her authentic self.
The 43-year-old was the focus on intense scrutiny — and debate — at the Tokyo Games.
Ultimately, she didn’t win. Hubbard, competing for New Zealand, couldn’t complete any of her first three lifts and finished out of contention for a medal.
She hopes that her participation in the Tokyo Games opens people's minds.
“All I’ve ever wanted to be is myself,” she told the Associated Press. “I’m just so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to come here and be me.”
Hubbard competed in men's weightlifting competitions before her transition in 2013 at the age of 35.
She has since met all of the requirements of the International Olympic Committee's regulations for trans athletes and fair competition. Under 2015 guidelines adopted by the IOC, male-to-female transgender athletes can compete in women's sports as long as testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before competing.
Hubbard won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and gold in the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. She competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but sustained a serious injury that set back her career.
“What drives me in sport, I think, is the sport itself,” she said to a small group of reporters on Tuesday, according to the AP. “And this is the pinnacle event for weightlifting, as it is for so many sports. And I suppose that’s what’s drawn me here, because anyone I think can train in their own time, but to actually be called to account on the platform. We’ve got one minute to make it all happen. That’s the real test for, I suppose, anyone and weightlifting.”