Transgender weightlifter wins silver medal

Daniel Gilhooly

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has won a silver medal for New Zealand at the weightlifting world championships, keeping the controversial issue alive in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games.

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

She finished second to American Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Robles, who lifted 126kg.

Hubbard had a shot at gold when attempting 127kg but she failed to lift the bar completely above her head.

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

The 39-year-old has a shot at further medals on Wednesday, when the same 10 lifters will contest the clean and jerk category.

Another medal can be claimed from combining the best lifts from both the snatch and clean and jerk.

A former top male lifter, Hubbard has attracted international headlines 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.