Laurel Hubbard: Who is the transgender weightlifter making history at Tokyo 2020?

New Zealander, Laurel Hubbard, is set to make history when she competes in women's weightlifting at Tokyo 2020 on Monday (2nd August). An almost career-ending injury could have derailed her Olympic dream, but now she's on track to push for the podium in Japan. 

Picture by 2018 Getty Images

No matter what happens in Tokyo, Laurel Hubbard will leave the Olympics in 2021 having been a part of history.

Hubbard will join the likes of Quinn – a Canadian football player – in being one of the first openly transgender athletes to compete at an Olympic Games.

She will compete in women’s +87kg weightlifting event on Monday (August 2).

Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Who is Laurel Hubbard?

43-year-old Laurel Hubbard was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and will be representing her homeland at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

When she first began weightlifting, Hubbard became a national record holder at men's events, and was a feared competitor, lifting around 300kg in domestic competitions.

However, in 2001, at the age of 23, she stepped away from weightlifting completely.

She revealed to Stuff that “it just became too much to bear, the pressure of trying to fit into a world that perhaps wasn’t really set up for people like myself.”

After beginning her transition in 2012, the door opened on a potential return to weightlifting for the New Zealand native.

And in 2017, a full 16 years after last competing, Hubbard made her comeback.

She set an Oceania record of 113kg when she competed at the 2017 North Island Games, followed by a gold at the Australian championships.

Hubbard is ranked 7th in the IWF’s women’s +87kg division, but impressed in Olympic qualifications by earning the fourth highest total.

The weightlifting veteran will be hoping to hold off the young guns to earn a place on the podium in Japan.

Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Returning from an almost career-ending injury

Hubbard entered the Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast in 2018 as a favourite to medal following her tremendous form.

It wasn’t to be, however, and she suffered a ruptured ligament in her arm.

The severity of the injury led her to consider retirement.

“My arm is busted,” Hubbard said at the time.

“It looks like it’s probably going to be a career-ending injury, which is a real shame, but I’m glad I’ve gone out trying to achieve my best on the platform.”

Successful treatment of her injury, however, resulted in a change of heart for Hubbard.

She would eventually go on to return to weightlifting in style, collecting two gold medals at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.

And now she’s ready to compete for New Zealand at Tokyo 2020.

Picture by 2017 Getty Images

How to watch Laurel Hubbard at Tokyo 2020

Laurel Hubbard will feature in the women's +87kg Group A, with action getting underway from 19:50 JST on Monday (August 2).

You can find out where to watch all the action at the Tokyo Olympic Games by clicking here.

You can read more about weightlifting at Tokyo 2020, and all other events from the Games, in the official Tokyo 2020 Olympics live blog.


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