TOKYO — As the global discussion of transgender athletes and their place in sport remains nascent, a quiet and dignified human being in the eye of the noise took the stage at weightlifting Monday night, whereupon the weight looked even heavier than usual.

Laurel Hubbard, the first openly transgender female athlete to compete in an Olympics in an individual sport, missed on all three of her attempts in the snatch, the first of the two disciplines in the competition, quashing her hopes with surprising haste in the super-heavyweight division of lifters who weigh 87 or more kilograms (191.8 pounds).

“Thank you so very much for your interest in my performance this evening,” Hubbard, an unassuming 43-year-old woman from New Zealand, told about 40 reporters in an interview room while the second half of the competition carried on out in the auditorium. “I know that from a sporting perspective I haven’t really hit the standards that I’ve put upon myself, and hence the standards of my country, that’s expected of me.

“But one of the things for which I’m so profoundly grateful is that supporters in New Zealand have just given me so much love and encouragement, and I think really that I wish I could thank them all at this point, but it’s just too many to name. So thank you so much to everyone who’s helped along this journey. One of the great misconceptions, I think, of weightlifting is that it’s an individual sport, but it isn’t.”

Asked to comment on the historic night having occurred in their sport, the eventual medalists demurred.

“No, thank you,” said Sarah Robles, the first American woman with two weightlifting medals after adding a bronze medal to her bronze earned in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“No, thank you,” said Emily Jade Campbell from Britain, who also extolled her friend and training partner Robles, whom Campbell had edged for the silver.

“I have nothing to say, I just respect the rules” that allowed Hubbard to compete, said Li Wenwen of China, one of these Olympics’ most emphatic gold medalists, with her two-discipline score of 320 total kilograms a whopping 37 ahead of Campbell.

While all had given their gold medal projections to Li, a remarkable 21-year-old who sleeps on the floor ahead of competitions because beds are “too soft,” and many had projected a medal for Robles, the native Californian who had trained in a Texas garage during bleak pandemic days, some had projected Hubbard as a medalist, also. Hubbard started off in the upper realm of aspirants among the 10 competitors, with the weight she originally chose for her first lift, 115 kilograms (253 pounds), tied for third among the aspired first-lift weights. A backstage camera showed her seated with a light smile and a quick nod. Thirty-eight minutes and 17 lifts went by in the competition before she had to appear, as the athletes who had pegged lesser weights for openers went about their lifting.

When Hubbard appeared and the usual interlude of raucous music stopped playing, she had adjusted her ambitions to 120 kilograms (264.5 pounds), which would have placed her first at least temporarily. She lifted that briefly but incompletely and quickly dropped it over her back.

Five lifts later, she went for a second try, this time at 125 kilograms (275.6 pounds), which again would have placed her first, the highest lift to that point being the 122 kilograms handled by both Mi Seon Lee of South Korea, a crowd favorite for her aplomb, and Campbell. Hubbard got the 125 aloft and then steadied herself, seemed to succeed and exulted a little after dropping the bar, but the judges ruled a “press out” infraction, which involves an insufficient extension of arms.

That left Hubbard with one last try, right after Robles and Lee both had handled the 125 impressively. Hubbard lifted briefly, dropped the bar over her back again, stepped slightly forward, waved to the audience of volunteers and coaches and reporters, and made a heart sign. She was finished at halftime, essentially, without any points to carry into the second discipline, the clean and jerk.

Hubbard, whose father was mayor of Auckland from 2004 to 2007, nonetheless had found her way to her first Olympics at an age 10 years older than anyone else in the field and more than double that of three of the other contestants. It happened in a sport at which she used to compete as male before stopping in 2003, because of, “Oh, just the pressure of trying to fit into, perhaps, a world that wasn’t really set up for people like myself,” as she explained to Radio New Zealand presenter John Campbell in December 2017.

Her participation in the sport since her transition has generated the familiar and growing debate, especially given her two silver medals at the world championships in Anaheim, Calif., in that same December 2017. While she shied from almost all interview requests, her presence incurred objection from a range of figures — including the Samoan prime minister, Egyptian coaches, a Belgian weightlifter, a former Kiwi weightlifter, the Australian Weightlifting Federation and Save Women’s Sport Australasia, a group whose statements read in part, “While everyone has the right to play sport, no one has the right to play in any category they choose.”

On the other side stood the international rules, with Hubbard having met the guidelines for low testosterone levels as mandated by the International Olympic Committee. She pointed out to Campbell in that same interview, “What most people probably don’t realize is that I actually satisfy the requirements of the 2003 Stockholm Consensus, which were the original rules that the IOC agreed upon to allow the participation of people like myself.”

IOC President Thomas Bach endorsed her presence here, saying, “You cannot change the rules during an ongoing competition.”

So while scientists still strain to learn the intricate realities of the human species, Hubbard graciously thanked various organizations. “Obviously, the Japanese people, the Japanese government, have been extraordinary,” she said. “Hosting these Games under such difficult circumstances is an extraordinary, extraordinary thing to have done, and on behalf of all the athletes that have had the opportunity to compete here, we are all so profoundly grateful. We recognize the challenge of these Games, of course, and as such we are so grateful to the Japanese for providing us the opportunity to compete here in this Olympic Games.”

She also thanked the IOC, the International Weightlifting Federation and the New Zealand Olympic Committee “because they have supported me through what have been quite difficult times. I know my participation at these Games has not been entirely without controversy, but they have, I think, been just so wonderful. I think, such a help, and I’m so grateful to them all, thank you.”