Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand will become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics after being selected for the women’s weightlifting event at the upcoming Tokyo Games on Monday. Hubbard will compete for the nation in the women’s 87-kilogram category, according to the New Zealand Olympic Committee, which also announced four other members of the weightlifting team in an official statement.
Kanah Andrews-Nahu (women’s -87kg), Laurel Hubbard (women’s +87kg), Megan Signal (women’s -76kg), David Liti (men’s +109kg), and Cameron McTaggart (men’s -81kg) comprise the weightlifting team. Each athlete will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo but brings significant international experience,” read a statement from the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC).
Laurel Hubbard, 43, will compete in her first Olympic Games after a remarkable comeback to her sport following a serious injury in 2018.
The Auckland-born lifter returned to competition in 2019 and continued to perform well throughout the remainder of the year and into 2020. Hubbard has been confirmed as eligible after meeting the IWF, IOC, and NZOC eligibility criteria, including the IWF eligibility criteria for athletes transitioning from male to female in accordance with the IOC Consensus Statement guidelines.
When she learned of her selection, Hubbard discussed the obstacles she had overcome on her way to the Olympic Games. In addition to expressing gratitude to her supporters, she reflected on the community’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am grateful and humbled by the outpouring of kindness and support from so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a statement released by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC).
“Three years ago, when I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games, I was advised that my sporting career was likely over. However, your encouragement, support, and aroha carried me through the darkness.
“The last eighteen months have demonstrated to us all the value of kinship, community, and collaboration toward a common goal. The silver fern’s mana is a gift from all of you, and I will proudly wear it.”
“We recognise that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue that requires a delicate balance of human rights and on-field fairness,” Kereyn Smith, CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, stated in the statement.
“As the New Zealand Team, we are committed to a strong culture of manaaki, inclusion, and mutual respect,” Smith said. “We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their mental and physical well-being, as well as their high-performance requirements, are met as they prepare for and compete in the Olympic Games.”
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