Laurel Hubbard’s Commonwealth Games campaign ended in pain.
Laurel Hubbard’s Commonwealth Games campaign ended in pain.

Stars erupt over ‘insane’ trans athlete rule

Kiwi weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is once again at the centre of a transgender battleground after Piers Morgan on Friday hit out at the transgender athlete's push for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Hubbard, whose 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign was overshadowed by her notoriety as a transgender athlete, is on track to qualify for the women's 87kg+ category at this year's Olympics - and it's yet again sparking heated debate across the sporting world.

 

 

Hubbard is in Canberra preparing to compete on Sunday in the International Weightlifting Federation Australian Weightlifting Open 87kg and above category still looking to cement her qualification for this year's Olympics.

The 42-year-old who previously competed as Gavin Hubbard in men's weightlifting competitions before transitioning seven years ago remains a contentious figure, despite her participation meeting every guideline the International Olympic Committee and IWF have surrounding the inclusion of transgender athletes.

Morgan on Friday took to Twitter to slam Hubbard's inclusion in the women's competition, labelling it an unfair advantage for the Kiwi.

"This is insane. Women's rights to basic fairness & equality are getting destroyed at the altar of political correctness," he posted.

Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the Women's 90+ kg division of the IWF Weightlifting World Championships in 2017.
Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the Women's 90+ kg division of the IWF Weightlifting World Championships in 2017.

"Trans women born with biological male bodies have a massive physical advantage against women born with female bodies in any sport where power & strength are significant factors. This shouldn't be a contentious claim, it's just a rather obvious fact."

His comments come after Aussie Olympic great Tamsyn Lewis on Thursday called for the IOC to take immediate action to address the issue head on in a respectable manner to clearly mark out new guidelines for the next generation of female athletes.

She told 2GB Radio's Ben Fordham that new guidelines are needed that mark out transgender athletes in their own classification separate to male and female competitions.

"People are scared to come out and say anything because of political correctness," the three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist said.

"This is an issue that's a really difficult issue. Not even the IOC can come to the proper guidelines," says the three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

"It is politically charged and it's a sensitive topic [but] if we don't make a stand, what's going to happen to that female category of sport?

"We have to make a stand to protect that female category because we want to have our youth of today feeling like they can compete in sport and make a career out of it.

Fordham said the greater issue is that transgender participation in women's sport could ultimately discourage female athletes from wanting to compete.

 

Laurel Hubbard snapped ligaments in her left elbow.
Laurel Hubbard snapped ligaments in her left elbow.

"That's just not fair," he said.

"And considering that Olympic competition is all about fairness. All about a level playing field, why don't they understand that this is just not fair?

"That is the great fear here. It's not about discouraging transgender athletes, it's about encouraging female athletes."

Hubbard's late push to compete in Tokyo comes after concerns last year that injuries would prevent her from qualifying for the Games under the new IOC qualification rules.

Weightlifters have been in the qualification stage for the Tokyo Games since April 2019 - and Hubbard is unlikely to be certain of a place at the Games until April this year.

Qualifying would be a monumental achievement for Hubbard, who famously ruptured ligaments in her left elbow at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, leading to fears it could have been a career-ending injury.

She was at the time the target of widespread protests and uproar from rival weightlifting federations, which included formal requests for her to be banned from the Commonwealth Games.

Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan at the time was among the officials to call on the IOC and the Commonwealth Games Federation to rewrite the rule book that allowed Hubbard to compete on the Gold Coast.

Hubbard, however, has maintained a dignified silence in response to the swirling controversy that now appears certain to follow her every step of her journey to Tokyo for the Games, beginning on July 24.


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