Australian weightlifter Charisma Amoe-Tarrant has thrown her support behind transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard competing at the Tokyo Olympics.
- Hubbard will become the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics
- Amoe-Tarrant says Hubbard deserves the opportunity
- Both weightlifters will compete in the women’s 87-kilogram category in Tokyo
Hubbard was selected in New Zealand’s Olympic squad, becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the Games after qualifying requirements were modified.
She was a keen junior weightlifter before quitting the sport 20 years ago, only rediscovering it in 2013 when she publicly identified as a woman.
Having satisfied strict eligibility criteria that includes a testosterone reading below a specified level, Hubbard will finally enter the Olympic arena after competing elsewhere for years.
Amoe-Tarrant, who will compete against Hubbard in the 87-kilogram category in Tokyo, said her rival deserved the opportunity to compete at the Olympics.
“I have so much respect for her and wish her and the other lifters the best and hope we can all come together and enjoy the Olympics,” Amoe-Tarrant said.
“Because this Olympics right now is quite different compared to others.
Australia’s deputy chef de mission for Tokyo, Susie O’Neill, said she welcomed Hubbard’s selection.
“Athletes are used to following rules and Laurel has passed the rules the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has set to compete at the Olympic Games,” O’Neill said.
“I love that she (Amoe-Tarrant) said it’s a different Olympics, about all getting together and competing as one, so I think that’s a good message when it comes to Laurel.”
Amoe-Tarrant is one of five Olympic debutants in Australia’s weightlifting squad.
She said she had seriously contemplated giving up on her chances of going to Tokyo when COVID-19 shut down the qualification process with just one tournament left to complete.
Amoe-Tarrant won silver for Nauru at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, but has lived in Brisbane since she was 13.
“I nearly gave up at one point because I didn’t think I’d make the team but here I am, so I’m very happy, nervous and a bit emotional,” she said.
“I have my ups and downs but had so many good people around me supporting me. I can be hard to coach so I always feel sorry for my coach and grandfather but they stuck to me the whole way.”