New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard kept her Olympic hopes alive with victory at the Roma World Cup

Laurel Hubbard kept alive her hopes of competing at Tokyo 2020 when she won the women’s super-heavyweight contest at the Roma World Cup, the first Olympic qualifying event of the year.

It would be a remarkable achievement should she make it because Hubbard, who will be 42 on February 9, ruptured ligaments in her left elbow at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast and thought her career was over.

She recovered after surgery, and made the deadline for competing in the first phase of Olympic qualifying by one day - only to bomb out by missing all three snatch attempts at the Arafura Games in Australia.

She took zero points from that first phase but since then has won five times, and placed sixth at the 2019 International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships.

Hubbard, who competed at national level as Gavin Hubbard before transitioning in her thirties, may find that her fate is not entirely in her own hands.

The woman who took the Commonwealth Games and Arafura Games titles, 19-year-old Feagaiga Stowers of Samoa, needs to be in the top eight of the final rankings to take an automatic qualification place for Hubbard to have a realistic chance.

Should Stowers make it, Hubbard would battle it out with Charisma Amoe-Tarrant, formerly of Nauru and now competing for Australia, for the Oceania slot.

It would probably come down to a head-to-head at the Oceania Championships in Nauru in April.

Hubbard missed three lifts in making a total of 270 kilograms in Rome, finishing four clear of Ukraine’s Anastasiia Lysenko.

But Hubbard has shown she is capable of lifting plenty more and appears to be benefitting from an extended spell of training at the Oceania Institute in Noumea in New Caledonia.

An Oceania lifter who appears certain to compete at Tokyo 2020 is David Liti of New Zealand, who made 388kg in finishing fourth in the men’s super-heavyweight competition. 

Lasha Talakhadze, the multiple world record holder, and world and Olympic champion, won with a six-from-six total of 470kg - 215kg in the snatch and 255kg in the clean and jerk.

The Georgian, who weighed in at a career high of 171kg, is top of the all-weights Olympic qualifying points table.

Remarkably, he has made all 27 of the lifts he has attempted in Olympic qualifying.

Russia’s Antoniy Savchuk was second on 412kg and the Israeli David Litvinov third on 393kg.

Dmytro Chumak of Ukraine won the 109kg with a total of 405kg, ahead of the Russian Timur Naniev by one kilogram.

The American Wesley Kitts in fourth all but secured a place in Tokyo.

Illness kept the American Mattie Rogers out of the women’s 87kg won by Yeounhee Kang of South Korea on 232kg, from Elena Cilcic of Moldova on 224kg and Austria’s Sarah Fischer on 221kg.