Woman lifter beaten by transgender speaks up

By Deidre Tautua and Sina Filifilia Seva’aetasi ,

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UNFAIRLY BEATEN BUT SHE IS DETERMINED TO COME BACK: Iuniarra Sipaia.

UNFAIRLY BEATEN BUT SHE IS DETERMINED TO COME BACK: Iuniarra Sipaia.

The Samoan female Iuniarra Sipaia who lost to a transgender weightlifter during the Australian Open Weightlifting competition last week has expressed disappointment about the situation.

New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, who had previously competed as a male, dominated the women’s 90+kg category and claimed the gold medal.

Yesterday, Ms. Sipaia said it was an unfair for a man to compete in the women’s division.

“I only found out when we arrived in Australia and Tuaopepe told me about it,” she told the Samoa Observer. “At first, I thought my coach was joking until the day of the competition.”

Regardless of what they say, Sipaia believes Hubbard is in the wrong category.

“I felt that it was unfair because all in all, Laurel is still a male even though he already had an operation to change his gender.

“It only changed the physical side but her emotions, her strength and everything is still a male.

“So I felt that it was unfair because we all know a woman’s strength is nowhere near a male’s strength no matter how hard we train.”

But that wasn’t the only insult copped by Sipaia.

She said she was also drug tested.

 “After the competition the World Anti-Doping Agency (W.A.D.A.) took my blood test as well as a pee test to see if I had taken any drugs,” she said.

“They only came to me but not Hubbard and I felt angry because I know we would never do such a thing.

“Not only that I felt embarrassed because there were other representatives from other countries who were wondering why they only took me when if this is the case Hubbard should also be tested as well.

“I know it was unfair but at the end of the day there is nothing any of us from around the Commonwealth can do because the I.O.C. and I.W.F. had already accepted it.”

Sipaia said she did the best for Samoa.

“Even though I didn’t win a gold medal but compared to Laurel Hubbard I was very proud of my performance,” she said.

“And no matter how wrong it is to let a transgender compete in the women’s division, looking at it from the positive side it pushed me to never back down.

“It made me realise that whether it’s a guy or a transgender or whatever women can do better and we can beat the males.

“It was a close competition and all in all I’m happy that I was far away from Hubbard and this will challenge me to keep on training and who knows maybe come the Commonwealth in 2018 I will be able to beat her.”

The President and coach of Samoa Weightlifting Federation, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, supported Sipaia.

“Personally, and this is me speaking personally, I don’t  think it’s fair,” he told the Samoa Observer

“I don’t take what’s been affected by the International Olympic Committee and of course the International Weightlifting Federation to accept her. To me, I don’t think it’s fair.”

It is important to note that Ms. Hubbard has met the rules and regulations set by the I.O.C. and is on track to represent New Zealand again in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

With that, Tuaopepe and Iuniarra have taken it on the chin and are now working twice as hard in the gym for Hubbard and Sipaia’s next encounter.  

“In saying that, I think Iuniarra performed extremely well. 

She was not far off the mark. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. Come September for the Oceania and Commonwealth Champions, Iuni’s going to come back stronger.” 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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