Weightlifter from New Zealand to become first transgender athlete to compete at Olympics

Laurel Hubbard Olympics
Posted at 2:18 PM, Jun 21, 2021

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics.

Hubbard is among five athletes confirmed on New Zealand's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games. She will also be the oldest weightlifter at the Games and will be ranked fourth in the women's heavyweight division.

"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 on Monday. "... "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."

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.

Hubbard competed in men's weightlifting competitions before her transition in 2013 at the age of 35, according to CNN.

She has since met all of the requirements of the International Olympic Committee's regulations for trans athletes and fair competition. Under 2015 guidelines adopted by the IOC, male-to-female transgender athletes can compete in women's sports as long as testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before competing.

"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," New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said in a statement Monday. "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."