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06th May 2021

New Zealand weightlifter set to make history as first trans athlete at the Olympics

Danny Jones

Laurel Hubbard to become first transgender athlete at the Olympics

Laurel Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to compete in an Olympics

Weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, is set to make history as she will become the first transgender athlete to compete in an Olympics. This follows new rule changes from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that allow her to qualify for the women’s super heavyweight (87kg-plus) category for weightlifting.

The 43-year-old from New Zealand had previously competed in male events but transitioned back in 2013. She is currently ranked fourth among the 14 other qualifiers in her class.

While many still believe that it creates an unfair disadvantage given testosterone levels, as well as other factors, others say there is no data that suggests transgender athletes outperform cisgender ones.

The IOC changed regulations back in 2015 to allow for athletes with reassigned genders to compete in the male or female sports, so long as they fell within the right testosterone levels (10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months).

In 2018, the Australian weightlifting federation attempted to block Hubbard from competing at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast – the same year she suffered what looked like a career-ending injury – and a year later she caused controversy by going on to win gold at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.

Laurel Hubbard injury 2018

One individual who is against transgender athletes competing in a different gender category is Caitlyn Jenner, who previously won a gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, before identifying as a woman in 2015 and undergoing a sex change in 2017.

Nevertheless, Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand has come out in full support of Hubbard and as reported by Stuff (a Kiwi news media outlet), the New Zealand Olympic Team (NZOC) stated it “has a strong culture of manaaki and inclusion and respect for all. We look forward to supporting all athletes selected to the New Zealand Team in Tokyo 2020”.

Like many sporting events, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were delayed and will now take place this year, starting on Friday the 23rd of July and running until the 8th of August 2021. Thanks to the National Lottery, JOE has been lucky enough to speak to several Team GB athletes ahead of this year’s tournaments – take a look down below: