entertainment

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard set to become first out trans athlete to compete at Olympics

Qualification 'effectively guaranteed' after rules amended due to Covid

2021-05-10

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: BBC/RNZ

Laurel Hubbard is set to become the world's first out trans Olympian when she competes at Tokyo 2021, according to reports.

The New Zealander - who competed in men's competitions before transitioning in 2013 - has not been confirmed for this year's event, but an International Weightlifting Federation insider told the Guardian that she would automatically qualify after participation rules were amended due to COVID-19.

Hubbard, 43, will compete in the women’s super heavyweight category.

"Very likely"

In a statement, the New Zealand Olympic Committee confirmed 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.

"A previous requirement to attend six competition events has been reduced to four due to the impact of COVID-19."

Weightlifting teams do not need to be named until 5 July.

Hubbard, a two-time 2017 World Championship silver medal-winner, said in a 2017 interview with RNZ: "I am who I am. I'm not here to change the world. I just want to be me and do what I do."

Responding to claims that her inclusion as a trans woman in women's contests "isn't fair," Hubbard added: "As an athlete, all I can really do is block that [criticism] out. Because if I try and take that weight on board, it makes the lifts harder."

Hubbard - currently 16th in the world rankings - has been eligible to compete at the Olympics since the IOC issued new guidelines in 2015. Trans men can compete without restriction, while trans women must have testosterone levels below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

The rescheduled Tokyo Games take place from 23 July-8 August 2021.

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