New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is all set to become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
According to a statement released by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Hubbard, 43, will compete in the women’s 87kg category. Four other members have also been selected for the weightlifting team – Kanah Andrews-Nahu (women’s -87kg), Megan Signal (women’s -76kg), David Liti (men’s +109kg) and Cameron McTaggart (men’s -81kg)
This is her first Olympic games after having made a remarkable come-back to her sport following a significant injury in 2018.
On hearing of her selection, Hubbard highlighted the challenges she had faced in her journey to the Olympic Games. Thanking her supporters, she also reflected on the strength of community that has been evident during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” said Hubbard.
“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha (love) carried me through the darkness,” she added.
“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.”
She has been confirmed eligible this year for the Olympics after meeting criteria by the International Weightlifting Federation, International Olympic Committee, and New Zealand Olympic Committee, said the committee statement on Monday.
Her participation in women’s categories has drawn controversy before, and dozens of US state are considering legislation that would prevent transgender women and girls from participating in women’s categories.