Transgender weightlifter cops backlash after historic win


The presence of Kiwi Laurel Hubbard among the female super-heavyweights at the weightlifting world championships created antagonism, a leading coach has confirmed.

Transgender athlete Hubbard won New Zealand's first ever medals at the event when she snared silver in both the snatch and overall categories in California.

Hubbard, who competed as a man until four years ago, has caused conjecture since entering women's top-flight competition.

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She complies with regulations on transgender athletes laid down by the International Olympic Committee, whose guidelines are followed by the International Weightlifting Federation.

However, that hasn't stopped rivals objecting to the presence of the 39-year-old, who will start firm favourite for a gold medal at next year's Commonwealth Games.

Hubbard competes in Anaheim. Image: Twitter

Tim Swords, the coach of world champion Sarah Robles, says he wasn't surprised Hubbard continued her policy of not speaking to media in the wake of her twin silvers.

"She stayed away because she was embarrassed, probably," Swords told Reuters.

Robles totalled 284kg, to head off Hubbard (275kg) and Egyptian bronze medallist Shaimaa Khalaf (268kg).

Swords said Hubbard's presence wasn't welcomed by some in Anaheim.

"There was no controversy between the lifters about her presence here, but there was between some of the coaching staffs," Swords said.

Hubbard. Image: AAP

"When Sarah beat Hubbard in the snatch we were congratulated by multiple coaching staffs. Nobody wanted her to win."

Mohamed Hosnytaha, coach of third-placed Khalaf, said Hubbard's background meant the competition wasn't a level playing field.

"We didn't agree with it, with somebody who was a man for so long, who has different hormones, different feelings," he said.

Australia's weightlifting chief recently said New Zealand's selection of Hubbard will create an uneven playing field at next year's Commonwealth Games.

Rival athletes complained that she had an unfair advantage after winning gold at the Australian Open this year, lifting 123 kilos in the snatch and 145 kilos in the clean and jerk.

Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan last month claimed Hubbard would have both a physiological and mental edge over her rivals.

"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 told AAP.

"If you've been a male and you've lifted certain weights and then you suddenly transition to a female, then psychologically you know you've lifted those weights before.

"I personally don't think it's a level playing field. That's my personal view and I think it's shared by a lot of people in the sporting world."