Laurel Hubbard Praises Olympics Organizers for Being Inclusive After Failing To Finish

Laurel Hubbard, the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, has bowed out of the competition after failing to complete her lifts in the women's weightlifting event.

The New Zealander took the stage for the women's super heavyweight +87kg category but was unable to land any of her three snatch attempts.

The weightlifter overbalanced on her opening weight of 120kg, taking the bar behind her shoulders and losing control during the lift.

Returning to the floor for two attempts at 125kgs, Hubbard was unable to manage the first lift and dropped the bar behind her during second attempt in a performance that ultimately eliminated her from continuing in the competition.

Laurel Hubbard
Laurel Hubbard of Team New Zealand competes during the Weightlifting - Women's 87kg+ Group A on day ten of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on August 02, 2021. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Although she appeared to successfully make one of the 125kg lifts and even celebrated with clenched fists, two of the three judges ruled it invalid for a bending of the elbow, ABC News reported.

After Hubbard dropped the bar behind her during her third and final attempt and received applause from the small crowd. She put her hands to her heart in acknowledgment of the crowd.

At 43 years old, Hubbard was the oldest weightlifter competing in the sport at the Tokyo games. It was also her first Olympic Games.

Hubbard gave a short statement to reporters after her performance.


Laurel Hubbard DNF in the +87kg Women’s Weightlifting Group A#EARNTHEFERN 🌿 #TOKYO2020@WeightliftingNZ

— The New Zealand Team (@TheNZTeam) August 2, 2021

"Thank you so very much for your interest in my non-performance this evening," Hubbard said as reported by "I know that from a sporting perspective I haven't really hit the standards that I've put upon myself and perhaps the standards that my country has expected of me.

"But one of the things for which I am so profoundly grateful is that supporters in New Zealand have given me so much love and encouragement, and I think I wish I could thank them all at this point but there's just too many to name. Thank you so much to everyone who's helped me along this journey.

"One of the great misconceptions of weightlifting is that it's an individual sport but it isn't. Behind every weightlifter there is a team of people who offer support, encouragement, just so many things. It's my one regret that I can't thank them all now."

Hubbard then thanked the Japanese government for hosting the Games, the International Olympic Committee, the New Zealand Olympic Committee and the International Weightlifting Federation.

"They (the IOC) have reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of Olympism. They've demonstrated that sport is something for all people around the world to do. It's inclusive, it's accessible and I think that's just really fabulous," Hubbard said.

"The NZOC have supported me through what have been quite difficult times. I know my participation at these Games has not been entirely without controversy but they have been just so wonderful. They've been such a help and I'm so grateful to them all."

The athlete said she was "not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation at these Games" in a statement, as reported by Reuters. "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," she added.

Hubbard also thanked Olympic organizers and spoke of her gratitude at the opportunity to compete in the days before the contest.

"The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values. I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible," Hubbard said in a statement provided by the New Zealand Olympic Committee and as reported by the Associated Press.

China's Li Wenwen won gold and set an Olympic record with her 140 kg snatch lift and record a total of 320kg.

Great Britain's Emily Campbell took home silver, becoming the first British woman to win an Olympic weightlifting medal by lifting a total of 283kg.

Sarah Robles of the U.S. narrowly missed second place but managed to clinch bronze with 282kg.

Laurel Hubbard
Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the Women's +90kg Final during the Weightlifting on day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Hubbard was confirmed as a member of New Zealand's Tokyo 2020 Olympic team in June this year.

She became eligible to compete after meeting the rules set by the International Olympic Committee's regulations for transgender athletes and fair competition.

The rules state that transgender athletes can compete in the female category if they are able to demonstrate a total testosterone level below 10 nanomoles per liter for a minimum of 12 months before they compete.

"I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders," Hubbard said in a statement last month issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) and as reported by the Associated Press last month.

In 2015, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) tweaked its rules to allow transgender women to compete as long as their testosterone levels were below a certain threshold.

Hubbard meets all the IOC requirements, but her participation in the Olympics has still come under attack.

Dr. Jami Taylor, political science professor at The University of Toledo and national expert on LGBTQ politics and policy, told Newsweek that Hubbard "can take solace in the honor of being an Olympian and in representing her country."

"She is also a trailblazer for transgender athletes. Hubbard's participation has generated significant abuse from the media in multiple countries and from online trolls. We should wish her peace and hope the New Zealand team rallies around her," Dr. Taylor added.

"While the worst fears of some critics have proven overblown, the transgender issue in athletics is not going to end here. I suspect added restrictions will be forthcoming after these Olympics. This will also be an issue in U.S. politics for the next several years."

Laurel Hubbard Weightlifter
Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the Women's +90kg Final during the Weightlifting on day five of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games at Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre on April 9, 2018 on the Gold Coast, Australia. Dan Mullan/Getty Images