First Trans Olympian Laurel Hubbard Hints at Retirement

First Trans Olympian Laurel Hubbard Hints at Retirement

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard may be retiring.

Earlier this week, the 43-year-old made her debut as the first openly trans woman to compete in the Olympics. However, she's now hinting at a possible retirement following her appearance at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

According to the New York Times, the intensely private Hubbard told a group of reporters on Tuesday that she was "looking forward to this being the end of my journey."

"These types of situations are always difficult for me because, as some of you may know, I've never been involved in sport because I'm looking for publicity, profile or exposure," she said. "While I recognize that my involvement in sport is a topic of considerable interest to some, in some ways I'm looking forward to this being the end of my journey as an athlete and the attention that comes from it."

Hubbard initially began weightlifting as a way to cope with her gender identity but stopped competing in her 20s. Five years after transitioning though, she resumed competing in 2012.

Her inclusion in this year's Women's +87kg event came after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) changed their qualification guidelines to base competition eligibility on testosterone levels in 2015, rather than only allowing trans athletes who had undergone gender reassignment surgery. Unfortunately though, Hubbard placed last in her competition after being unable to complete a snatch lift within three attempts.

Even so, Hubbard took a moment to praise the IOC for switching to an inclusive policy, though she also went on to address her discomfort with being at the center of the reignited debate over trans athletes. And while she acknowledge the fact that trans activists have continually called her a role model, she explained that the term was "something I could ever aspire to be."

"I don't think it should be historic," she continued. "As we move into a new and more understanding world, people are starting to realize that people like me are just people. We are human, and as such I hope that just by being here is enough."

That said, Hubbard also appeared to say she was planning to take a step back from the sport as "age has caught up with me."

"In fact if we're being honest it probably caught up with me some time ago," she said, before explaining that her "involvement in sport is probably due, if nothing else, to heroic amounts of anti-inflammatories."

She added, "It's probably time for me to start thinking about hanging up the boots and concentrating on other things in my life."

Read the New York Times' full report, here.

Photo via Getty / Chris Graythen