New Zealand Weightlifter Could Soon Become First Transgender Athlete to Compete in Olympics

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The 2021 Tokyo Olympics could soon see the very first transgender competitor if weightlifter Laurel Hubbard makes the New Zealand team.

Hubbard competed as a male until 2013 and now competes against female weightlifters. The 43-year-old athlete will “very likely” be qualified by the New Zealand Olympic Committee to compete in the women’s super heavyweight category in Tokyo for the Summer Games, The Western Journal reported.

“The NZOC can confirm that revised international federation (IF) qualification systems are very likely to see a number of New Zealand weightlifters, including Commonwealth Games transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard, allocated an IF quota spot for Tokyo 2020,” the NZOC said in a statement.

“We are not in a position to comment on the likelihood of any athlete’s selection until we have the necessary evidence,” the committee also said.

Athletes are typically chosen for their scores in qualifying events and their chance at ranking in the top eight at the Olympic games. Currently, Hubbard is ranked 16th in the world.

If Hubbard is qualified by the NZOC, they will decide in June whether the athlete will make the nation’s team.

In 2018, Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast, something which was opposed by the Australian Weightlifting Federation, which said the born male athlete would have an unfair advantage over female athletes.

“In our respectful view, the current criteria and its application has the potential to devalue women’s weightlifting and discourage female-born athletes from pursuing the sport at an elite level in the future,” it said, according to France 24.

Hubbard, meanwhile, claims to want nothing more than to compete and told Radio New Zealand in an interview in 2017, “I don’t want to change the world. I just want to be me and do what I do.”

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