New Zealand Weightlifter Will Make History as First Openly Transgender Athlete at Olympics

Laurel Hubbard, who used to compete in the men's weightlifting competitions, has now met the eligibility requirements for athletes who have transitioned.

Laurel Hubbard, who represents New Zealand, will make history as the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Olympic Games after she lifted 628 pounds in two lifts to qualify for her first Olympic Games in Tokyo

Hubbard, 43, is set to compete in the women's super-heavyweight 87-kg weightlifting category on August 2. She previously won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and a gold medal in 2019 at the Pacific Games in Samoa.

"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. "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 from all of you and I will wear it with pride.”

Her qualification came after she broke her arm in 2018  at the Commonwealth Games and was told the her career may be over, but she didn’t let that stop her. 

On Monday, the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) announced that Hubbard met the eligibility requirements for athletes who have transitioned. The guidelines allow transgender women to compete if their testosterone level is 10 nanomoles per liter in serum for one year before their first competition, CBS news reported.

"We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play," NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith said. "As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of manaaki and inclusion and respect for all. We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing, along with their high-performance needs, while preparing for and competing at the Olympic Games are met.”

Several states are currently attempting to ban transgender women and girls from playing women’s sports, including Idaho, which became the first state to ban it last year. A federal judge later blocked the effort, however. Several other states, however, have now put their own bans in place.

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