Sunday, March 26, 2017
If This Continues, Women's Sports Are Finished
A Kiwi weightlifter has made history as the first transgender athlete to represent New Zealand and come away with a win, however the victory has been slammed by other competitors.
Laurel Hubbard, 39, won the women's over 90kg division at the Australian International competition in Melbourne on Sunday, but the win has caused a stir with some believing she had an unfair advantage.
Her combined total of 268kg was nearly 20kg better than Samoan runner-up Iuniarra Sipaia, with another 20kg back to the next lifter in the field.
The performance puts Hubbard in line for selection at the 2017 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
While her eligibility passed the International Olympic Committee's criteria, Hubbard's win was met with criticism from Australian competitors who believe a transgender athlete in the female weightlifting category was not an equal playing field.
Hubbard was born the son of former Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard and has previously competed at a national level in men's weightlifting as Gavin Hubbard.
She transitioned in her mid-30s and recent improvements have lifted her to a lofty women's ranking.
Hubbard's success in the sport forced Rio Olympic lifter Tracey Lambrechs, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, to lose weight and compete in a lower division.
Lambrechs has spoken of uneasiness at Hubbard's eligibility but has vowed to continue her career in the 90kg class. She placed second in Melbourne.
Another lifter told New Zealand TV news station 1News Now Hubbard's entry into the female category was unfair to other competitors.
"We all deserve to be on an even playing field," the weightlifter said.
"It's difficult when you believe that you're not. If its not even, why are we doing the sport?" she said.
In an interview with the New Zealand news program, prominent sportswriter Phil Gifford said Hubbard had every right to compete with the women after passing "straightforward" hormone regulations.
"It's testosterone levels which is a much more scientific way of measuring male gender, female gender than anything else that is currently known.
"And Lauren has passed all of those tests over the last 12 months," he said.
Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand said it followed the policy of the International Olympic Committee and the world weightlifting governing body in allowing Hubbard to compete in the women's division.
The IOC acknowledges athletes as male or female, with no categorisation as transgender.