Samoan PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi hits out at Laurel Hubbard

Samoa's Prime Minister is appealing to the Pacific Games Council to address concerns around the eligibility of transgender athletes.

The issue has been ignited by Kiwi transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard winning three medals at the latest Pacific Games, which finished at the weekend.

Hubbard won two gold medals and one silver in the women's 87kg and over category at the games. She has been cleared to compete under International Olympic Committee guidelines.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi made it clear he didn't support trans athletes competing in women's sport.

"This fa'afafine or man should have never been allowed by the Pacific Games Council president to lift with the women. I was shocked when I first heard about it," he told the Samoa Observer.​

"No matter how we look at it, he's a man (sic) and it's shocking this was allowed in the first place." 

The Pacific Games Council said it would look in to the issue of transgender athletes competing against cis females (born female).

Council president Vidhya Lakhan said the council would look at rules surrounding transgender athletes as part of a wider review post-Games.

"I have been following the local media with great interest," he told Inside the Games.

"In our next review, as soon as we receive our 2019 Games report, there will be a review on all issues including transgender athletes.

Samoa 2019 chairman Loau Solamalemalo Keneti Sio called Hubbard's participation in the women's over-87 kilograms "unfair".

"They have allowed New Zealand transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard to lift in the women's category and there is nothing we can do about it," Loau said.

"We all know that it is not fair to the women lifters but that is a reality we face in the world of sports.

"The rules have changed and we cannot deviate from these rules.

"The IOC and IWF do not discriminate against transgender athletes and while this may be hard to accept, we must learn to adapt to these rules because it will not change for anyone."

Loau reportedly claimed Samoa should "utilise the opportunity" by inviting transgender Samoans and fa'afafines to join the country's weightlifting team.

After suffering a potentially career-ending injury at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Hubbard returned to competition at the Arafura Games in Darwin in April, though she failed to register a lift.

To qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she must compete in six international events in 18 months. The competitions in Darwin and Apia took her to two.

Hubbard contemplated retirement following a horrific elbow injury sustained on the Gold Coast last April.

The local crowd at the games cheered when Hubbard failed at a final clean and jerk lift, enabling Iuniarra Sipaia to take the gold medal in that discipline.

When Hubbard won the snatch she responded by blowing a kiss and waved to the crowd before departing the competition platform, Inside the Games reported.

Hubbard was not the only transgender athlete competing at the games.

American Samoa's footballer Jaiyah Saelua played for the men's team. He was thrilled to be a part of the games.

"This time, the supporters who understand the concept of fa'afafine, the officials and coaches of other teams are encouraging," Saelua told the Pacific Games News Service.

"It makes me feel proud to be a part of the Pacific region where this third gender is accepted, encouraged and celebrated.

"Whether you are a little girl, whether you are a disabled person, whether you are a person of colour, whether you are transgender or gay, bisexual, it doesn't matter.

"Whatever people say about you, be proud of it, and use it to motivate you to be the best you can be."

However, 16-year-old Selina Soule disagreed with transgender athletes at the games. She failed to qualify for a track event after being beaten by transgender athletes.

"Eventually, it's going to get to the point where the biological females will be on the sidelines, watching their own sports," she said.