Transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard grateful for Olympic chance, happy to fade into obscurity

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard smiles to the crowd after her weightlifting campaign came to an end at the Tokyo Olympics, August 2, 2021 Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Trailblazing weightlifter Laurel Hubbard says she looks forward to "graceful obscurity" leaving the Tokyo Games, with memories "as rewarding as any Olympic medal."

The 43-year-old made history on Monday night as the first transgender woman to compete at the Olympics. However, she disappointed in the women's +87kg category, missing all three of her snatch attempts, failing to register a result and bowing out.

Hubbard had no excuses for her showing, saying she enjoyed a perfect preparation.

"It comes down to the fickle nature of sport," she told New Zealand journalists in Tokyo. "You put yourself out there, you test yourself and you find out one way or the other.

"As all weightlifters know, it's all very well being strong in your own time. When you're on that Olympic platform ... it's a test like no other."

After failing at her third attempt, she made a heart symbol with her hands and pushed it out to the cameras.

Anti-trans activists have criticised Hubbard and the IOC for her participation, but the softly-spoken Aucklander met all regulations for her inclusion.

Hubbard competed as a man in junior weightlifting events before undergoing hormone therapy and transitioning at the age of 35.

Hubbard said she understood the debate and thanked the IOC for "opening the door" for trans inclusion in an elite sport.

"I haven't come here to change the world. I've come here because sport is part of me," she said.

"I haven't set out to look for special accommodation or treatment or anything else.

"The IOC has tried to put in place regulations that apply to all sports. I suspect over time there will be more refinement ... but it's not my area of expertise."

Hubbard, also the oldest member of the Kiwi team, said she was at peace with her performance.

"I'm looking forward to my career as a pub quiz question or a trivial pursuit card," she joked.

"I've never been involved in sport because I'm interested in publicity or profile.

"If it means that, I now begin to descend into graceful obscurity. I'm okay with that."