By Stewart Perrie
Laurel Hubbard has thanked everyone for their support after she failed to progress to the final of the Tokyo Olympics.
The Kiwi weightlifter had the weight of the world on her shoulders as she entered the 2020 Games as the first transgender athlete to ever compete at an Olympics.
Many questioned whether she should be allowed to compete in the women's 87kg+ event, however the International Olympic Committee approved her inclusion and praised her for qualifying.
However, it wasn't meant to be for Laurel.
She approached her first attempt in the Group A round with a 120kg snatch, which is 12kg lighter than her best lift. The bar went too far overhead and she was forced to let the bar drop behind her.
Hubbard upped the ante for her second attempt and tried her hand at 125kgs. While she managed to get the bar above her head, the judges deemed it to be unsuccessful.
Then it was all down to the third and final lift. She stuck to 125kgs and sadly wasn't able to get the bar firmly overhead with a solid footing and the bar again fell behind her.
"My performance wasn't what I had hoped, but I'm humbled by the support I've received from so many people around New Zealand," she said after the event.
"I am aware that my participation has been controversial.
"Thank you to the IOC for living up to the Olympic values and showing that sport is for all and that weightlifting can be done by all types of people."
She paid tribute to Japan for hosting what will likely be the most difficult set of circumstances for an Olympic Games in history.
In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, athletes have had to deal with devastating heat, social distancing and typhoons.
But Laurel explained how she still feels humbled to have competed, even if it wasn't at her career best.
"If anything I think I was just overwhelmed by the excitement of being on the Olympic platform. It's such a truly special place, not just for weightlifters," she told Sky Sport.
"I think for any Olympic athlete, competing at this level just unlocks a certain amount of adrenaline and I think I might have just over-cooked it slightly tonight.
"I'm so grateful. That injury that I had back in 2018 [during the Commonwealth Games] was so traumatic that I never thought I would compete again and, consequently, everything that's happened since then has just been a bonus and I think that's why it's hard for me to be too disappointed tonight."
The gold medal ended up going to China's Wenwen Li, with Team GB's Emily Campbell winning silver, and America's Sarah Robles getting bronze.
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