Kiwi weightlifter to be first transgender athlete in Olympic history

File photo dated 31-12-2020 of Olympic Rings outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Issue date: Wednesday April 28, 2021.
File photo dated 31-12-2020 of Olympic Rings outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Issue date: Wednesday April 28, 2021.

Hubbard competed as a male weightlifter before transitioning in 2012

Published

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics after being selected by New Zealand for the Tokyo games.

The South Island-based 43-year-old will participate in the women’s super heavyweight category, the New Zealand Olympic Committee said in a statement as it acknowledged Hubbard and the four other weightlifters selected for the Games.

Chief executive Kereyn Smith said Hubbard would be welcomed to the Kiwi team.

“As well as being among the world’s best for her event, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria including those based on IOC Consensus Statement guidelines for transgender athletes,” Smith said.

“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.”

Hubbard competed as a male weightlifter before transitioning in 2012 and returning to the sport in 2017, with a serious arm injury the following year at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games followed by gold in the Roma 2020 World Cup.

She said she was “grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders”.

“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 carried me through the darkness.

“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.”