Trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has secured two gold medals the Pacific Games in Samoa.
Hubbard took the gold in the over-89kg competition which took place on Saturday (13 July).
The New Zealander bested competition favorites, Samoa’s Feagaiga Stowers and Iuniana Sipaia.
This is a remarkable comeback for the athlete who suffered a potentially career-ending elbow injury at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
She is currently working to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Remarkable comeback at the Pacific Games
Hubbard, 41, won the overall title by lifting 268kg, with Stowers lifting 261kg, and Sipaia lifting 255kg.
However, Sipaia managed to secure a gold medal for discipline after Hubbard failed at a clean and jerk lift, Inside the Games reports.
There was a cheer from the crowd when Hubbard was unable to make the lift. In response, she blew kisses at the crowd before leaving the competition platform.
Hubbard had been the favorite to win gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games which took place in Australia’s Gold Coast.
However, she was forced to pull out of the competition after suffering a serious elbow injury while attempting a lift.
It was later confirmed that she had ruptured a ligament in her arm which required surgery. There had been speculation that Hubbard would retire from weightlifting following the injury.
She is now working making the qualification criteria for next year’s Olympic Games. This will involve competing in six international events in under 18 months.
Facing controversy in the past
Hubbard has faced backlash over her rights to compete in female competitions in the past.
She had competed in male in weightlifting events before transitioning to female in her mid-30s.
A number of female athletes have come out in opposition to Hubbard being able to compete in women’s sports at an elite level.
This follows a 2016 ruling by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which allowed athletes who are transitioning from male to female to participate without restriction.
IOC rules state that those transitioning must maintain their testosterone levels below a certain level for at least 12 months.
The IOC ruled that Hubbard met this criteria and was able to compete in women’s events. Olympic chiefs have come forward in defense of Hubbard’s right to compete in the past.
The dispute over Hubbard’s right to compete is another instance of the polarizing debate surrounding trans athletes competing in elite sports which correspond to their gender identity.
Critics have argued that trans women would have an advantage over cisgender women because their bodies are naturally larger or stronger.
However, trans rights activists have disputed these claims. medical experts have also found that trans women who regularly take estrogen do not have an advantage.
A number of former athletes have publically stated their opposition to allowing trans women to compete in female sporting events. This includes long-distance runner, Paula Radcliff, and former Olympic swimmer, Shannon Davies.