Hubbard wins historic weightlifting medals

Daniel Gilhooly

Laurel Hubbard has forged another place in the New Zealand sports history books after winning twin silver medals at the weightlifting world championships.

Transgender athlete Hubbard finished runner-up in the snatch category in the women's 90kg-plus division at Anaheim in California, with her best successful lift coming at 124kg.

She went on to record the fourth-best lift in the clean and jerk category with 151kg.

That gave her a combined total of 275kg, the second best overall score.

She is the first Kiwi, man or woman, to win a medal at the world championships.

Her best snatch weight was only beaten by American Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Robles, who was successful at 126kg.

Hubbard had a shot at gold when attempting 127kg but she failed to lift the bar completely above her head, expressing disappointment at falling short of her personal best 131kg set last year.

However, she matched her pb in the clean and jerk, leaving her with a total that was only bettered by Robles' 284kg. Shaimaa Hariday of Egypt was third with 268kg.

Hubbard's final tally would have ranked her fifth in the open class at last year's Rio Olympics.

Last month, Hubbard became the first New Zealand transgender athlete to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.

A former top male lifter, she has attracted international headlines and conjecture since making the decision to compete as a woman, something she is entitled to do under International Weightlifting Federation and International Olympic Committee rules.

Her rivals have expressed unease at a perceived advantage, an argument echoed by the Australian Weightlifting Federation after the Commonwealth Games selection was confirmed.

AWF chief executive Michael Keelan said Hubbard's inclusion in the women's open class would create an "uneven playing field" on the Gold Coast.

"We're in a power sport which is normally related to masculine tendencies ... where you've got that aggression, you've got the right hormones, then you can lift bigger weights," he said.

"If you've been a male and you've lifted certain weights, then you suddenly transition to a female, psychologically you know you've lifted those weights before."

Hubbard had to demonstrate her testosterone levels were below a certain threshold for 12 months before representing New Zealand.