Laurel Hubbard: First Transgender Woman to qualify for Olympics

July 20, 2021by Stuti Chandwani0

Well, giving up is always easy. Especially when the whole world is on the other side. But guess what, for Laurel Hubbard fighting the world was easier than giving up. Instead of distracting herself, she chose to lift.

“I am not here to change the world, I am here to do what I do.”

Who is Laurel Hubbard?

Laurel Hubbard is the first openly transgender weightlifter to qualify for Olympic Games, Tokyo. She is from New Zealand. Formerly known as Gavin Hubbard, Laurel transitioned in 2013.


In 2017, she competed as a woman in International Weightlifting Federation’s World Weightlifting Championship and won a silver medal. She competed in Commonwealth games the following year but suffered a severe arm injury. 

In 2019, she rose again. She participated in Pacific Games in Samoa, where she won two gold medals.

Lifting for Hubbard

In her early years, she started to lift so she could fit in her body and feel more masculine. But she realised it is who she is and nothing can change that. With the help of consistency and focus, she became so passionate about lifting to stand where she is right now. The training regimen for weightlifting is not easy, but she says it’s all worth it when she lifts on the right spot. It feels like the weights come alive. She also says that lifting made a lot of darker parts of her life more manageable. 

In difficult times, passion, doing what you love can really help you to hold onto. It gives you a reason to get out of your bed every day and take care of yourself. And that consistency, handwork and self-discipline really pay off.

Real Weights in the life of Hubbard

As Gary Hubbard, she quit boxing in 2001 because she felt it was too much on her. She felt that she is a female disguised in a man’s body. Hence, she went through a transition later on. 

In Commonwealth Games when she got injured, she was advised to end her career. 

In 2019, she faced a lot of criticism from the media, blaming her for “stealing” the medal from Iuniarra Sipaia ( the Samoan athlete competing against Hubbard) even though she waited for four years after her transitioning began to participate. Egyptian coach Mohamed Hosnytaha disagreed with her win because she was a man for so long. 

Her testosterone levels were low enough to qualify as a woman participant. She satisfied the rules of the 2003 Stockholm Consensus which were the original rules of IOC. But these facts couldn’t save her from criticism and outrage by rival athletes and their coaches.

Despite so much outrage, she doesn’t like to call out her haters. She proposes that this all is new to people and when they see something that requires them to challenge their beliefs, they get really defensive. She hopes people to see the bigger picture and accept her for who she is.

Bottom Line

Dr Jami Taylor, professor of political science at the University of Toledo said that Hubbard might find herself in a no-win situation even if she succeeds in Tokyo Olympics. Even if she wins or not, she will have to face a lot of criticism. But this won’t keep her back, it never did. Her focus will be more on lifting and winning rather than haters and media controversies. Nothing can stop her, she’s gonna go all the way up.



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