Tokyo Olympics 2020: New Zealand’s weightlifter to make history as first transgender Olympian
The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on Monday has confirmed that weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has been selected to contest the women’s +87kg category. Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics.
The 43-year-old had competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a statement issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on Monday.
Hubbard has been eligible to compete at Olympics since 2015, when the International Olympic Committee issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.
Hubbard won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and gold in the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. She competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but sustained a serious injury that set back her career.
“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (love) carried me through the darkness,” said Hubbard.
“The last eighteen months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common purpose. The mana of the silver fern comes all of you and I will wear it with pride,” Hubbard added.
Competing as Gavin Hubbard, her birth name, Hubbard set national records in junior competition and had a best, combined snatch and clean and jerk total of 300 kilograms (661 pounds).
Hubbard transitioned eight years ago at the age of 35. She has since met all of the requirements of the International Olympic Committee’s regulations for trans athletes and fair competition.
Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen said last month allowing Hubbard to compete at Tokyo was unfair for women and “like a bad joke”.
Australia’s weightlifting federation sought to block Hubbard from competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but organisers rejected the move.
Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Richie Patterson said Hubbard had “grit and perseverance” to return from injury and rebuild her confidence.
“We look forward to supporting her in her final preparations towards Tokyo,” said Richie Patterson.
The IOC policy specifies conditions under which those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category.
Among them is that the athlete has declared that her gender identity is female and that the declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years.
The athlete must also demonstrate that her total testosterone level is below a specific measurement for at least 12 months prior to her first competition.