Hubbard hesitates to make history as a transgender Olympian | Football

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TOKYO (AP) – Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has never sought the attention that inevitably came with becoming the first openly transgender woman to compete in the Olympics.

The 43-year-old came under intense scrutiny at the Tokyo Games. In the end, she didn’t win – Hubbard couldn’t complete any of her first three tricks and ended up out of the race for a medal.

But in the end, coming back to New Zealand empty-handed was secondary to authenticity.

“All I ever wanted to be is myself,” she said. “I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to come here and be me.”

Hubbard, who was largely silent in the run-up to the Olympics and during competition, except for statements released by the federation, is soft-spoken and intensely private. But as an athlete and competitor, the Olympic scene was beckoning.

“What motivates me about sport, I think, is the sport itself,” she told a small group of reporters on Tuesday. “And it’s the flagship event in weightlifting, as it is with so many sports. And I guess that’s what attracted me here, because anyone, I think, can train at their own pace, but to be called to account on the platform. We have a minute for all of this to happen. This is the real test for, I guess, anyone and everyone. weightlifting. “

The Tokyo Games are the first time openly transgender athletes have participated in the Olympics.

Quinn, a non-binary player for the Canadian women’s soccer team, came out last year and uses the pronouns them and them. Quinn is assured of a medal after Canada qualified for the gold medal game against Sweden on Friday. Chelsea Wolfe, a transgender cyclist, is a reserve for the US Women’s BMX Freestyle Team. American skater Alana Smith is also non-binary and wrote “they / them” on her board.

Hubbard, who made the transition at the age of 35, downplayed his historic role in those Olympics.

“These kinds of situations are always quite difficult for me because, as some of you may know, I have never really been involved in sports because I am looking for publicity, profile or exhibition, ”she said. “And while I recognize that my involvement in the sport is a subject of considerable interest to some, in some ways I can’t wait for this to be the end of my athletic journey and the attention that comes from it. “

The International Olympic Committee first authorized transgender participation in 2004. In 2015, the IOC developed a series of recommendations for transgender athletes.

Many sports organizations, including the International Weightlifting Federation, have implemented similar policies based on IOC recommendations.

The IOC signaled at the Tokyo Games that it will release a new “framework” for the eligibility of trans athletes, taking into account new scientific studies. This will serve as the basis for sports to develop their own updated policies.

In weightlifting, transgender women must show that their testosterone is below a certain level after the transition, a requirement which Hubbard answered. She won a silver medal at the 2017 world championships, but had not competed for a year and a half before Tokyo due to the pandemic.

Quinn was also silent at the Olympics, but opened up after Canada beat the United States in the semifinals. After the game, American star Megan Rapinoe hugged Quinn to congratulate him.

“Getting messages from young people saying that they’ve never seen a trans person in sport before, and becoming that person, to hopefully help them continue in sport, because I know for me the athletics is the most exciting part of my life and the thing that brings me the most joy, ”Quinn said. “So I hope if I can allow the kids to continue playing the sport they love, and that’s my legacy, that’s what I’m here for.”

Quinn and Hubbard said they saw vitriolic messages about them on social media.

“I tried not to dwell on, I guess, negative coverage or negative perception, because that makes the job even more difficult. It’s hard enough to lift a barbell, but if you put more weight on it, that makes it an impossible task, really, “said Hubbard.” One thing I will say though, is that I often think, a lot of negative coverage and the negative perception is not really based on some sort of evidence or principle, but rather on the emotion that people often respond to, out of fear or unease. I hope that over time they will open up to a broader perspective. “

With that, Hubbard says she’s ready to move on.

“Really, age has caught up with me. In fact, if we’re being honest, it probably caught up with me some time ago, ”she said. “Therefore, it’s probably time for me to start thinking about hanging up on the boots and focusing on other things in my life.”

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