New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to make history and headlines, plus a considerable amount of controversy, after being confirmed as the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics.
The 43-year-old will be a contender for the live medal when she competes in the
women’s super heavyweight category on August 2. But Hubbard’s inclusion will also frustrate those who believe he has an unfair advantage over his rivals, as he went through male puberty before transitioning in 2012.
Hubbard, who won silver at the 2017 world championships and finished sixth in the 2019 edition after recovering from a serious arm injury at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, said she was delighted to have been selected.
“I am grateful and honored for the kindness and support that so many New Zealanders have shown me,” Hubbard said in a statement. “When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was informed that my sports career had probably come to an end. But your support, your encouragement and your ‘aroha’ [affection] It took me through the dark
“The last eighteen months have shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together toward a common purpose,” Hubbard added. “Mana’ [honour] of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride. “
According to IOC guidelines issued in November 2015, athletes transitioning from male to female can compete in the female category without the need for surgery to remove their testicles, as long as their total serum testosterone level remains below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months. – a rule followed by the IWF.
However, several scientific articles have recently shown that people who have gone through male puberty retain significant benefits in terms of power and strength even after taking medications to suppress their testosterone levels. Hubbard lived as a man for 35 years and did not compete in international weightlifting. But since transitioning, he has won several elite titles.
New Zealand Olympic Committee Executive Director Kereyn Smith said Hubbard would be welcome to the New Zealand team.
“In addition to being among the best in the world for her event, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria, including those based on the IOC guidelines for transgender athletes,” she said. “We recognize that gender identity in sport is a very sensitive and complex issue that requires a balance between human rights and justice on the playing field.
“As a New Zealand team, we have a strong ‘manaaki’ culture. [respect] and inclusion and respect for all. We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their physical and mental well-being, along with their high-performance needs, as they prepare for and compete in the Olympics. “
County Weightlifting Federation President Richie Patterson added that Hubbard had shown “courage and perseverance in his return from a major injury and overcoming challenges to regain confidence in the competition platform.
“Laurel is an astute student of the sport and technically very good with elevators. We look forward to supporting her in her final preparations for Tokyo. ”Some of Hubbard’s rivals, including Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen, have previously claimed that she will have an unfair advantage.
Vanbellinghen, who competes in the same 87kg division as the New Zealander, stressed that she fully supports the transgender community and that her comments were not a personal criticism of Hubbard.
“Anyone who has trained weightlifting to a high level knows this to be true in their bones – this particular situation is unfair to the sport and the athletes,” Vanbellinghen said recently.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism