After warming some hearts and causing resentment to others, New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard – the first transgender to compete at the Commonwealth Games – was left in tears when she had to withdraw from women’s +90kg weightlifting competition owing to a dislocated shoulder.
Formerly Gavin Hubbard before transitioning into a woman in her 30s, the 40-year-old Hubbard has attracted quite a bit of attention and some scorn from rivals.
Samoan weightlifting team head coach Jerry Wallwork insisted that Hubbard being allowed to compete in the Games is unfair on the other women competitors as she still has the strength of a male that she once was.
“I haven’t really read or followed commentary regarding my competing at the Commonwealth Games. I don’t really have an opinion,” was Hubbard’s response to the controversy.
She was, however, worried about the crowd reception but the warmth offered by the spectators left her overwhelmed.
“It would be untrue to say the thought never crossed my mind. No indication of that at all today. They were absolutely fantastic. It’s a credit to the Australian people and the broader sporting community,” said the weightlifter, whose father was the Mayor of Auckland for three years starting 2004.
“The Australian crowd was magnificent. It felt like just a big embrace. They really made me try to lift my best. I gave it everything and I regret I wasn’t able to make the lift today,” she added.
Hubbard retired from competition after hurting her shoulder on her final snatch. She suffered shoulder dislocation and dropped the bar behind her.
The Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive David Grevemberg avoids the matter when asked about Hubbard at the daily media briefing on Monday.
“The rules are the rules and they all play by the rules. There is a process to evaluate those rules, through the International Weightlifting Federation, and from that perspective there is a process to be followed,” he said.
Hubbard, meanwhile, said she gave it her all while going for the Commonwealth record in snatch.
“It’s obviously a difficult time. But the one thing I am happiest about is that I tried to reach for my best performance. This happens sometimes, but that’s sport,” she said fighting back tears.
“We can always go back over these things in our heads, but the truth is that unless we try to be the best person we can be, the best athlete, then really we are not being true to sport,” she added.
“Medals are only one measure of performance. I am obviously unhappy I had to withdraw, but I gave it everything I had and I can sleep well knowing that.