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Tokyo Olympics: Laurel Hubbard becomes the first transgender athlete to compete

WELLINGTON: Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics after being selected by New Zealand for the women’s event at the Tokyo Olympics
Laurel Hubbard lifted 628 pounds (185 kilogrammes) in two lifts to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in the women’s super-heavyweight event.

Before moving to women’s weightlifting, the 43-year-old had competed in men’s weightlifting competitions in 2013.

Hubbard was one of five weightlifters named to New Zealand’s Olympic team on Monday. She will also be the oldest weightlifter at the games and will be ranked fourth in the category for women weighing 87 kilogrammes (192 pounds) or more on August 2.

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Hubbard won gold at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa and silver at the 2017 World Championships. She competed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games but was forced to withdraw due to a major injury.

Hubbard stated, “I am grateful and humbled by the love and support that so many New Zealanders have shown me.”

“When I fractured my arm three years ago at the Commonwealth Games, I was warned that my sporting career was likely over. But your support, encouragement, and aroha (love) helped me get through the dark,” she added.

The last eighteen months have shown us all that kinship, community, and working together toward a common goal. All of you have received the silver fern’s mana, which I will proudly wear, she said.

Hubbard has also had to bear the added burden of her efforts being a flashpoint in the argument over the fairness of trans athletes competing in women’s events. She has faced hatred, scorn and ridicule, as well as direct criticism from some opponents.

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Hubbard, who was 35 at the time transitioned eight years ago. She has since fulfilled all of the standards of the International Olympic Committee’s trans athletes and fair competition regulations.

The IOC guideline lays out the requirements for transitioning from male to female athletes are eligible to compete in the female category.

One of them is that the athlete has stated her gender identity to be female and that this declaration cannot be reversed for at least four years for sports purposes.

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