New Zealand Weightlifter Will Be First Openly Transgender Athlete To Participate In Olympics

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A transgender athlete was selected Monday to the the New Zealand women’s weightlifting team for the Tokyo Olympic Games, becoming the first openly transgender qualifier in the competition’s history.

Laurel Hubbard is set to compete with other female weightlifters in the women’s super-heavyweight 87-kg category on August 2. Apart from being the first ever transgender athlete, the 43-year-old will also be the oldest weightlifter at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, according to CBS.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said, according to a Monday statement by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC).

“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,” she added. (RELATED: Laurel Hubbard Could Become First Biological Male To Compete In A Women’s Sport At Tokyo Olympics)

Hubbard won two silver medals in the women’s World Weightlifting Championships back in 2017 and placed sixth in 2019 after suffering the arm injury during the competition. The athlete also took home two golds and a silver at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.

Hubbard has been eligible for competing at the Olympics since a 2015 update by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), according to The Daily Mail. The new guidelines now allow any transitioned biological male to participate at the Games if their testosterone levels are kept below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months.

“Women’s sport has made such strides and we still don’t have equality with airtime, coverage, sponsorship, awareness or prize money. But this is another kick in the teeth for female athletes,” former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies said of Hubbard’s qualification in May, according to The Daily Mail.