Kiwi weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has dominated her first major competition, taking out the Australian International in Melbourne on a night she made history as the first transgender athlete to represent New Zealand.

Hubbard, 39, won the women's over 90kg division at the Melbourne event, setting four unofficial national records in the process. Hubbard lifted a combined total of 268kg - 19kg better than silver medallist Iuniarra Sipaia of Samoa.

Australia's Kaitlyn Fassina claimed the bronze medal with 223kg.

Hubbard looked visibly emotional as she lined up behind dais awaiting the official medal presentation. But she kept the tears at bay, smiling and waving as she stood atop the podium.


Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand general manager Emma Pilkington said Hubbard was thrilled with her first international outing.

"The crowd has been extremely welcoming and supportive so it has been a very positive experience for her," she said.

Earlier this month the Herald revealed Hubbard had been selected to make her international debut at the competition after usurping Rio Olympian Tracey Lambrechs at the top of the division.

Hubbard's selection was a considered a pioneering moment in sport for the LBGT community. Further ground could yet be broken, with tonight's performance in Melbourne expected to go a long way to securing Hubbard's place in the team for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year.

Hubbard's emergence as an international-calibre lifter last year forced Lambrechs to drop to a lower weight division, shedding 17kg in order to meet the 90kg class. Lambrechs, who won bronze at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, admitted she was initially upset by being knocked off the top rung in the rankings by Hubbard, but she is trying to take a positive approach to her competitive future.

Making her debut in the 90kg division, Lambrechs had a promising start, taking out the silver with a combined total of 206kg.

Hubbard waves to the crowd after the win. Photo /
Hubbard waves to the crowd after the win. Photo /

Garry Marshall, president of the Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand, told the Herald earlier this month Hubbard's selection had created some issues among other female lifters but said the position of OWNZ was simple.

"We have to follow the policy of the International Olympic Committee and the International Weightlifting Federation. They do not acknowledge in any way the gender identity of an athlete other than male or female; they're not described as transgender," Marshall said.


The world weightlifting body has followed the guidelines from the IOC's consensus meeting on sex reassignment and hyperandrogenism, issued in November 2015.

Among the recommendations it states that those who transition from male to female "must demonstrate that her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 [nanomoles per litre] for at least 12 months prior to her first competition".

Hubbard, who once competed at national level as Gavin Hubbard, transitioned in her mid-30s.

Laurel Hubbard, New Zealand transgender weighlifter competing in the snatch at Melbourne today. Photo / Supplied
Laurel Hubbard, New Zealand transgender weighlifter competing in the snatch at Melbourne today. Photo / Supplied