New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics, a move that will reignite debate over the ethics of trans sport.
The 43-year-old woman, who was born male but became a woman in her 30s, is set to reach the Tokyo Olympics under new coronavirus qualifying rules.
Hubbard, who also competed as a male, became eligible to compete in women’s weightlifting after showing testosterone levels below the threshold required by the International Olympic Committee.
She aims to be part of the New Zealand team at the Tokyo Olympics to compete in the women’s + 87kg category, an event in which she is currently ranked 16th in the world.
Hubbard is already in the history books after becoming the first transgender Commonwealth Games athlete on the Gold Coast in 2018, when she had to retire after suffering an elbow injury that nearly ended her career.
Although the New Zealand squad has yet to be named, officials have said Hubbard is likely to meet new qualifying criteria that have been streamlined by the International Weightlifting Federation due to the Covid pandemic. 19.
“The NZOC can confirm that the revised International Federation (IF) qualification systems will most likely see a number of New Zealand weightlifters, including transgender Commonwealth Games athlete Laurel Hubbard, allotted an IF quota spot. for Tokyo 2020, ”said the New Zealand Olympic Committee. .
The NZOC has strongly supported Hubbard’s right to compete in the past and said all athletes selected for Tokyo will receive his support.
“The New Zealand team has a strong culture of manaaki (benevolence), inclusion and respect for all,” he says.
Not all in the sports world have been so welcoming and Hubbard’s appearance at the Games is sure to generate intense interest and shine a light on the thorny issue of trans athletes.
The Australian Weightlifting Federation tried unsuccessfully to prevent her from leaving the Gold Coast in 2018, arguing that she had a physical advantage over born athletes, regardless of testosterone level.
“In our humble opinion, the current criteria and their application have the potential to devalue women’s weightlifting and discourage female athletes from playing the sport at an elite level in the future,” he said.
Hubbard rarely gives interviews, but told Radio New Zealand in 2017 that she just wanted to compete in the sport she loves and “blocked” criticism.
“If I try to put on that weight on board it makes the elevators harder… I am who I am,” she said.
“I don’t want to change the world. I just wanna be me and do what I do. “
© 2021 AFP