Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard may have the support and approval of left-wing politicians, woke media figures, and the International Olympic Committee. But based on their response during a recent podium news conference, the female weightlifters who defeated the New Zealand athlete in this year's competitions feel differently.
During a news conference Tuesday, the women's weightlifting podium refused to comment on their counterpart, Hubbard, a biological male who identifies as a female and was cleared to compete against women at the Tokyo Games.
After an Olympics reporter asked them how they felt about Hubbard competing, the trio of medalists — which included gold medalist Li Wenwen of China, silver medalist Emily Campbell of Great Britain, and bronze medalist Sarah Robles of the U.S. — sat in awkward silence until one finally announced their tacit disapproval.
"There was a historic night here with Laurel Hubbard competing as the first openly transgender in an individual event," the reporter said. "I was wondering what you felt about that and what you felt that took place in your sport?"
A painstaking eight seconds passed before anyone said anything.
A Tale Of Two Questions https://t.co/BqSNn2niEV— 𝔻𝕣. 𝕀𝕟𝕧𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕠𝕣 🍥🍥 (@𝔻𝕣. 𝕀𝕟𝕧𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕕𝕒𝕥𝕠𝕣 🍥🍥)1628007447.0
"Li was unfazed, Campbell did not move, and Robles sipped water," Insider reported.
Then, finally, Robles chimed in and said, "No, thank you."
The athletes weren't tight-lipped before that moment. Only seconds before, Campbell had spoken at length to a reporter about how grateful she was to have trained alongside Robles ahead of the competition, calling her American friend a "sweetheart."
Why does it matter?
Hubbard, the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics, had exited early from the women's +87kg competition on Monday after failing to register a single lift on three attempts. Of their group, Hubbard was the only competitor not to advance to the Clean & Jerk stage.
Nevertheless, the Kiwi's storyline dominated all the headlines surrounding women's weightlifting.
One could imagine the ire some of the other competitors may have felt as their athletic accomplishments were routinely overshadowed by a completely separate storyline.
Li set three Olympic records en route to her gold medal victory, in which she posted 140 kilograms (309 pounds) in the snatch, 180 kilograms (397 pounds) in the clean and jerk, for a total of 320 kilograms (706 pounds). Robles also made history as the first American woman to win two Olympic weightlifting medals, Insider reported.
Yet the spotlight has remained on Hubbard.