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Transgender athlete Hubbard retires after Olympic debut

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Tokyo (AFP)

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has announced that she will be retiring following her groundbreaking appearance at the Tokyo Olympics this week.

The New Zealander competed in the +87 kg weightlifting category on Monday, in a first that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) described as the first appearance of an openly transgender woman at the Olympics.

While her appearance on the biggest sports scene was short-lived – an ‘overwhelmed’ Hubbard failed to pull off a lift – she was hailed by trans activists as a historic opportunity for a marginalized community.

It has also sparked a storm of debate about the participation of transgender people in women’s sport.

The very private Hubbard said she was now ready to step away from the spotlight.

“Age has caught up with me. In fact, if we’re being honest, it probably caught up with me some time ago,” said Hubbard, who at 43 was over 20 years older than most of his peers. rivals.

“My involvement in sports is probably due, at least, to heroic amounts of anti-inflammatory drugs, and it’s probably time for me to start thinking about hanging up on my boots and focusing on other things in my life. . “

Hubbard praised the IOC for showing “moral leadership” in adopting inclusive policies that enabled it to participate in the Games.

“I’m not sure that a role model is something I can ever aspire to be, instead I hope just by being I can provide a feeling of encouragement,” she said. to journalists.

Critics argue that athletes such as Hubbard, who was born male and became female in his thirties, have physical benefits ingrained in their bodies during their formative years.

These include increased muscle mass and lung capacity, leading to concerns that born female athletes will be forced to compete on an uneven playing field.

The IOC, under guidelines adopted in 2003, only allowed transgender participation to athletes with gender reassignment surgery, but dropped the requirement in 2015, focusing instead on lower testosterone levels.

The governing body is expected to issue new guidelines on the matter once the Tokyo Games are over.

Hubbard said she welcomes the discussion of the issues her early days have brought to light.

“I’m sure a conversation needs to take place,” she said.

“While we have rules at the moment, they will undoubtedly change and evolve as more is known about trans athletes and what that means for participation in sport.”

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