Trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard set to make history at Tokyo Olympics: report

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New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard has not yet been named to the national women's weightlifting team. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images - image credit)
New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard has not yet been named to the national women's weightlifting team. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images - image credit)

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is poised to become the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics due to rule changes put in place for the rescheduled Tokyo Games, as reported on Wednesday by Inside the Games.

Hubbard, 43, was essentially guaranteed a spot in the women's super heavyweight category, according to the report, following the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) approval for an alteration to the rules because of the COVID-19 pandemic having forced the cancellation of many qualifying competitions.

She has not been named to the national women's weightlifting team going to the Tokyo Olympic Games as of yet.

Prior to her transition in 2012, Hubbard took part in men's competitions.

Hubbard's presence at the Tokyo Olympics is expected to attract plenty of media attention as well as criticism from fellow lifters and coaches, with weightlifting having been at the centre of the debate as to the fairness of transgender athletes competing in women's sports.

She has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015, following the IOC's new guidelines allowing transgender athletes to compete as a woman, provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Hubbard's gold medal victories at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa, where she bested Samoa's Commonwealth Games champion Feagaiga Stowers, triggered outrage in the island nation.

Australia's weightlifting federation sought to block Hubbard from competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but organizers rejected the move.

Meanwhile, USA Weightlifting said it had no issue with Hubbard competing in the Games, with spokesman Kevin Farley telling Reuters, "We respect the rules established by the International Weightlifting Federation and the International Olympic Committee for qualification and will be focusing on assisting our athletes to compete against all those who are qualified for the Tokyo Games."

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