There is great anticipation on Monday 2 August, 12.50pm Italian time, for the women's weightlifting competition featuring New Zealand athlete Laurel Hubbard, celebrated by the media as a "the first transgender athlete at the Olympics" . Laurel, weighing 131 kg, will compete in the heaviest female category, +87 kg, in group A.
In addition to being the "first trans woman", Laurel has another record: at 43, she will be the oldest female lifter at the Olympics. The other nine athletes are all in their 20s with the exception of 32-year-old Sarah Robles, bronze medallist in Rio de Janeiro 2016.
Laurel was born a boy in 1978 as Gavin to Diana and Dick Hubbard, owner of the cereal company Hubbard Foods and mayor of New Zealand's capital Auckland from 2004 to 2007. Gavin has been interested in weightlifting since a young age and in 1998, at the age of 20, he competed in men's weightlifting competitions in his country, without achieving any significant international results. In short, pretty bad.
But in 2012, At the age of 34, she decided to 'feel like a woman' and, by submitting a declaration of gender self-determination, changed her name to 'Laurel'. At the same time he took up weightlifting again, perhaps as part of his 'exploration' of the genre. And as it happens, its performance improves.
Not only as a woman but also as an athlete Laurel blossomed late: she participated for the first time in an international competition in March 2017, a year after her last Olympics appearance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. It was the 2017 World Championships held in Anheim, California, where she took silver in the +90kg category.
In a short time, however, Laurel has burned through the ranks: in 2019 she won two gold medals at the Pacific Games, stealing them from Samoa's favourite Feagaiga Stowers, woman-born (see here).
Then qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
Strangely enough, the official Olympics website does not list Laurel as a favourite in the women's weightlifting, favouring China's Li WenWen, 20 years old, gold medalist at the 2019 World Championships in Pattaya.
Perhaps Olympic gold in Hubbard would be embarrassing for them to handle as well. Better an honourable bronze, if anything a silver, to avoid excessive controversy.
But let's see!
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