In Weight Lifting, a Historic Moment for Transgender Women
Sarah Fischer, an Austrian athlete 23 years younger than Hubbard, was however willing to speak in favor of Hubbard. “I wanted her to do a good job because she had such a tough past and so many people wanted her to lose,” she said. “I actually wanted her to win a medal – that would be the best, so everyone will shut up about it.”
As time passed before the competition began, anxious New Zealand officials gathered with members of the weightlifting federation and event planners to discuss preparations for the post event. Of particular concern was how the organizers and Hubbard would handle the journalists’ crush there to speak with her.
During the introductions, Hubbard did not immediately appear with the other nine weightlifters as they took the stage. At the last moment, she emerged and took her place between Lee Seon-mi of South Korea and Sarah Robles of the United States. When her name was called and she stepped forward, she received a light applause and a few taunts, which is unusual in this context.
Hubbard, who had an outside chance for a medal, came out to stand up half an hour after the start of the competition. Her first lift, to 120 kilograms, or about 265 pounds, came amid the sounds of camera shutters. She briefly held the bar above her head but lost control when she fell behind her. She shook her head and left the stage.
She missed her second and third lifts, both at 125 kilograms. On the second, she brought the bar over her head, but the lift was disqualified because she didn’t keep her arms fully extended. After her third misfire, she beat her heart, threw her hands up, bowed, and walked off the stage.
When her night was over, she walked into a room full of reporters to deliver a speech that lasted about three minutes. Speaking hesitantly at first, she thanked her supporters and admitted that her participation had “not been entirely without controversy”.
“I know that from a sporting point of view, I haven’t really reached the standards that I have set for myself and maybe the standards that my country expects from me,” she said. “But one of the things I’m so deeply grateful for is the fans in New Zealand who just gave me so much love and encouragement, and I really think I wish I could thank them all at this stage, but there are just too many to name.
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