New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the country’s team for the Tokyo Olympic Games, becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event after qualifying requirements were modified.
- Laurel Hubbard will represent New Zealand in weightlifting in the women’s 87-kg category at the Tokyo Olympics
- Hubbard, 43, competed in men’s weightlifting before transitioning in 2013
- She became eligible to compete at the Olympics in 2015 under new guidelines for testosterone levels for transgender athletes
Hubbard will compete in the women’s 87-kilogram category, the New Zealand Olympic Committee said in a statement.
The 43-year-old had competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013.
She has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015, when the International Olympic Committee issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels were below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.
But her eligibility has been questioned by ex-athletes and other critics of the International Olympic Committee’s guidance on inclusion for transgender athletes, which they believe ignores the performance advantage gained by going through male puberty.
The New Zealand government, however, backed her inclusion.
“As well as being among the world’s best for her event, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria, including those based on IOC Consensus Statement guidelines for transgender athletes,” New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said in a statement.
Hubbard represented New Zealand at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, but had to withdraw from competing in the women’s +90kg weightlifting final due to injury.
Hubbard twisted her elbow while attempting a Commonwealth record snatch lift of 132kg, dropping the bar behind her in clear pain.
She withdrew from the clean and snatch, an event she was the overwhelming favourite to win.
Another transgender athlete, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe, will travel to Tokyo as part of the American team, but she has been named as an alternate and is not guaranteed to compete.
New Zealand named a total of five athletes on its weightlifting team for Tokyo.
The others were Kanah Andrews-Nahu (women’s -87kg), Megan Signal (women’s -76kg), David Liti (men’s +109kg) and Cameron McTaggart (men’s -81kg.