21 Jun 2021

Call for two gold medals to be awarded should Hubbard win in Tokyo

6:31 pm on 21 June 2021

Former Olympic weightlifter Tracey Lambrechs believes two gold medals should be awarded should New Zealand's trans-gender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard win her category at the Tokyo Olympics.

Hubbard was today named in the New Zealand Olympic team for Tokyo, meaning she'll become the first trans-gender athlete to ever compete at an Olympics.

Lambrechs competed at the Rio Olympics and won a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Tracey Lambrechs.

Tracey Lambrechs. Photo: Photosport

She's opposed to Hubbard competing in the women's category as she believes she has a biological advantage.

"If Laurel was to win gold then the next biological female (should) also win gold... then Laurel would be a gold medallist as a trans-gender and then we would have our female athlete as an Olympic champion as well."

Weightlifting has been at the centre of the debate over the fairness of transgender athletes competing against women, and Hubbard's presence in Tokyo could prove divisive.

Save Women's Sport Australasia, an advocacy group for women athletes, criticised Hubbard's selection.

"It is flawed policy from the IOC that has allowed the selection of a 43-year-old biological male who identifies as a woman to compete in the female category," the group said in a statement.

Hubbard's gold medal wins at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, where she topped the podium ahead of Samoa's Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers, triggered outrage in the host nation.

Samoa's weightlifting boss said Hubbard's selection for Tokyo would be like letting athletes "dope" and feared it could cost the small Pacific nation a medal.

Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen said last month allowing Hubbard to compete at Tokyo was unfair for women and "like a bad joke".

Australia's weightlifting federation sought to block Hubbard from competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but organisers rejected the move.

Hubbard was forced to withdraw after injuring herself during competition, and thought her career was over.

Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand warms up during the IWF Weightlifting World Championships in Anaheim, California, USA on 5 December 2017.
Free to use for editorial news use only.

Photo: Elieko / IWF World Championships

"When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end," said Hubbard on Monday, thanking New Zealanders.

"But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (love) carried me through the darkness."

Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Richie Patterson said Hubbard had "grit and perseverance" to return from injury and rebuild her confidence.

"We look forward to supporting her in her final preparations towards Tokyo," he said.

Another transgender athlete, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe, will travel to Tokyo as part of the United States team, but is named as an alternate and not assured of competing.

Canadian women's football player Quinn, who came out as transgender last year and uses only one name, is also a chance to be selected for the Olympics, five years after winning bronze with the women's team at the 2016 Rio Games.


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.