A transgender person won two silvers in the women’s World Weightlifting Championships that concluded Tuesday evening.
Laurel Hubbard, 39, from New Zealand finished second overall to U.S. competitor Sarah Robles. Robles was the first person from the United States to win a gold medal at the World Championships in 23 years, according to Reuters.
Hubbard also finished second in the snatch category. Hubbard previously competed as a man in national weightlifting competitions, but began identifying as a female four years ago.
“There was no controversy between the lifters about her presence here, but there was between some of the coaching staffs,” said Robles’ coach Tim Swords, according to Reuters. “When Sarah beat Hubbard in the snatch we were congratulated by multiple coaching staffs. Nobody wanted her to win.”
Hubbard competed as a woman at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, in April and also became the first transgender to represent New Zealand in a weightlifting competition at the 2017 Australasian Championships in March, where Hubbard won gold.
Hubbard met requirements set by the International Weightlifting Federation and International Olympic Committee to compete as a woman, given that he met the testosterone level threshold 12 months prior to competition.
There is still widespread unease among the weightlifting community that he has an unfair advantage over his biologically female opponents.
“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,” Australian Weightlifting Federation (AFW) chief executive Michael Keelan said. “If you’ve been a male and you’ve lifted certain weights, then you suddenly transition to a female, psychologically you know you’ve lifted those weights before.”
Hubbard’s medal is the first won by any New Zealander in the World Championships, a competition that began in 1891.
He is now gearing up to compete as a female at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
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