Laurel Hubbard made history Sunday when she became the first transgender athlete to make an Olympic team after qualifying for the New Zealand weightlifting team.
While there was criticism around her position in the women’s arena, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian weightlifter Charisma Amoe-Tarrant offered their support.
“All the parties here just followed the rules,” Ardern said. “This is the case for Laurel but also for the team in New Zealand, they followed the rules. “
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Amoe-Tarrant won silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games while representing Nauru and a bronze at the 2019 Pacific Games representing Australia. She will face Hubbard in the 87kg super heavyweight category at the Tokyo Games.
“I have so much respect for her and wish her and other weightlifters the best and hope we can all come together and enjoy the Olympics,” Amoe-Tarrant said, via The Guardian.
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said Hubbard enjoys the country’s support, while New Zealand opposition leader Judith Collins added that she did not want to see intimidation against Hubbard.
Hubbard made his transition eight years ago at the age of 35. Hubbard is 43 years old to participate in Olympic competitions. The International Olympic Committee said Hubbard had met all requirements for trans athletes and fair competition.
Of these, athletes must demonstrate that their testosterone level is below a specific measurement for at least 12 months prior to their first competition.
LAUREL HUBBARD IS THE FIRST TRANSGENDER ATHLETE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Hubbard did not find everyone’s support.
Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen called her presence a “bad joke” for the competitors.
“I am aware that defining a legal framework for the participation of transgender people in sport is very difficult because there is an endless variety of situations and it is probably impossible to arrive at a fully satisfactory solution on both sides of the world. debate, ”she said. “However, anyone who has coached weightlifting to a high level knows that this is true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair for the sport and for the athletes.
“Life-changing opportunities are being missed for some athletes – Olympic medals and qualifiers – and we are helpless. Of course, this debate takes place in a larger context of discrimination against transgender people and that is why the question is never devoid of ideology. “
Hubbard won silver at the 2017 World Championships and gold at the 2019 Pacific Games. She suffered an injury at the 2018 Commonwealth Games which set her career back.
“I am grateful and touched by the kindness and support given to me by so many New Zealanders. When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was informed that my athletic career was probably over. But your support, encouragement, and aroha (love) brought me through the darkness, ”Hubbard said.
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“The past eighteen months have shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common goal. The silver fern mana comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride. “
The Associated Press contributed to this report.