Weightlifting: Transgender lifter creates tensionSave
By Alex Chapman
The emergence of New Zealand's first transgender top-level weightlifter is creating tension in the sport's ranks.
Olympic weightlifter Tracey Lambrechs has confirmed she has had to shed 17kg in a bid to make a lower weight class after her rival Laurel Hubbard claimed the top qualifying spot in the division she represented New Zealand in at the Rio Games.
Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand (OWNZ) has named Hubbard in the 90kg+ weight class in the New Zealand team to compete at the Australasian championships in Melbourne this month.
Hubbard's emergence as an international-calibre lifter last year has forced Lambrechs to aim for a lower weight division.
"It was a big shock," Lambrechs told Radio Sport. "At first I was quite angry and then confused and upset.
"I was taken aback when it first happened but I have no control over anything around me, so I've really just been focusing on myself and whatever happens happens."
The Auckland-based lifter has made the world championships her priority this year followed by the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.
She said OWNZ had advised it would only select one competitor per weight division for the world championships.
Hubbard had a stronger claim to the top spot in the Super class, forcing Lambrechs into a rethink.
"I'm not top of the super [class] any more so I've had to drop around 17 kilos to head down to the next category," she said.
Lambrechs says she is trying to take a positive approach to her competitive future.
"By this forcing me to go down I'm actually enjoying the challenge," she said. "Nothing's guaranteed any more so it's keeping me on my toes and making me enjoy weightlifting again.
"Obviously losing all that weight my body shape has changed and so my technique is a little bit clumsy at the moment.
"I reckon I'll be just as strong come the end of the year which is our final Commonwealth Games qualifier."