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'A real credit to the Australian people' - Transgender weightlifter thankful for Commonwealth Games reception

Weightlifting - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Women's +90kg - Final - Carrara Sports Arena 1 - Gold Coast, Australia - April 9, 2018. Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes. REUTERS/Paul Childs
Weightlifting - Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games - Women's +90kg - Final - Carrara Sports Arena 1 - Gold Coast, Australia - April 9, 2018. Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes. REUTERS/Paul Childs

Matt McGeehan

Laurel Hubbard, the transgender weightlifter from New Zealand, was apprehensive about her reception but thanked Australia and the sporting community for its welcoming "embrace".

Some have accused Hubbard - born in Auckland in February 1978 as Gavin - of having an "unfair" advantage, believing her participation rendered the result a formality. Many others say let her lift.

Hubbard had been seeking to win the women's 90+kg title, but her bid was ended by an elbow injury as Feagaiga Stowers won the fifth Commonwealth Games gold medal in Samoa's history.

Hubbard said: "Look, it would be untrue to say that the thought never crossed my mind.

"But there's no indication at all today that they were anything other than absolutely fantastic.

"A real credit to the Australian people and also the broader sporting community.

"The crowd was absolutely magnificent. I felt just a big embrace.

"I wanted to give them something that was the best I could do. My only real regret today was that I was unable to show that."

Hubbard transitioned to become female in her 30s and she fulfils all the International Olympic Committee's criteria on gender.

The 40-year-old competed as a male weightlifter, but her first event as a female came as she won the Australian International 13 months ago by lifting 17kg more than her nearest rival. She claimed World Championships silver last November behind Sarah Robles of the United States.

There have been calls for the rules to be rewritten to exclude Hubbard, but she received a warm reception and opened with a lift of 120kg in the snatch discipline, 7kg more than any of her rivals managed from their three lifts.

She failed to lift a Games record 127kg with her second lift and also missed out on 132kg with her third lift as she sought to extend her advantage over Stowers ahead of the clean and jerk discipline, where the Samoan is more proficient.

Hubbard, who suffered the injury on her final lift, added: "I have no regrets about the attempts that I made because I believe to be true to sport you really have to try to be the best you can. I'm happy with the decisions I made.

"I think you have to be true to yourself and I hope in this case that's what I've done."

England's Emily Campbell, who took bronze, supports Hubbard's inclusion.

"She's human, like the rest of us," Campbell said. "She just wants to lift. That's all she wants to do.

"People shouldn't be making comments and making her feel horrible for doing something she loves to do."

Earlier England's Owen Boxall took bronze in the men's -105kg class.

Six English weightlifters have emerged with medals here, including Emily Godley's 75kg gold on Sunday.

Campbell said: "I was extremely happy for them, but it puts a bit of pressure on you when you've got to go last.

"This is just the beginning. I'm so, so excited for what the future can hold for me."

Press Association

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