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05th Aug 2021

Weightlifting medallists sit in silence after question about trans athlete Laurel Hubbard

Danny Jones

Women's weightlifting medallists silent on Laurel Hubbard

The press conference table fell agonisingly quiet

The women’s +87kg weightlifting competition has concluded and after the athletes who took the podium sat down to discuss their achievements, one journalist’s question resulted in extremely uncomfortable silence.

The press conference featured weightlifting medallists, Li Wenwen of China, who won gold in the +87kg lifting event; Emily Campbell of Team GB, who won silver, and Sarah Robles of the United States, who won bronze.

After sitting down to take questions, one journalist said: “There was a historic night here with Laurel Hubbard competing as the first openly transgender in an individual event. I was wondering what you felt about that and what you felt that it took place in your sport.” This is how they responded or, rather, didn’t:

The nine seconds of silence feels like an eternity but is ultimately drawn a line under by Robles, who simply says, “No, thank you” to the reporter’s question.

Hubbard’s inclusion has of course been a big topic and a hugely debated one throughout Tokyo 2020, with many arguing that she should not have been able to compete due to having gone through male puberty, unlike her competitors.

The IOC is set to change regulations for transgender athletes after this tournament and as for Hubbard herself, she looks set to retire after her first and presumably last Games, having gone out in the first round with three failed snatches.

While it is not clear where the three women’s weightlifting medallists stand on the issue, plenty on social media have noted that their lack of a response shows, at the very least, how uncomfortable and divided people still are around the subject.

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