Laurel Hubbard 'grateful' for Olympics opportunity after making history

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New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard bowed out of Olympics competition early after failing to record a lift in the snatch event Monday.

But Hubbard said Tuesday she was just “grateful” to have an opportunity to compete.

“All I’ve ever wanted to be is myself,” she told reporters. “I’m just so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to come here and be me.”

Hubbard, who transitioned eight years ago at the age of 35 and is the first transgender Olympian, said the prospect of competing on the world stage was what drew her to Tokyo.

“What drives me in sport, I think, is the sport itself,” she said. “And this is the pinnacle event for weightlifting, as it is for so many sports. And I suppose that’s what’s drawn me here, because anyone I think can train in their own time, but to actually be called to account on the platform. We’ve got one minute to make it all happen. That’s the real test for, I suppose, anyone and weightlifting.”

While her appearance at the Olympics came with some controversy over fairness, Hubbard said she tried not to dwell on the negativity.

“I tried not to dwell on, I suppose, negative coverage or negative perception, because it makes a hard job even harder. It’s hard enough lifting a barbell but if you’re putting more weight on it, it just makes it an impossible task, really. One thing I will say though is that I think often, a lot of negative coverage and negative perception is not really based on any sort of evidence or principle but rather it’s based on emotion that people are often reacting, out of fear or discomfort. I hope that in time, they will open themselves up to a broader perspective,” she said.

Hubbard said the next move for her would be to concentrate on other things in her life. She told reporters that old age “probably caught up with me some time ago.”

The Olympian received the back of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the International Olympic Committee before competing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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