(EFE).- Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to be the first openly transgender athlete to compete in an Olympic Games, after being selected by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on Monday to represent the country at Tokyo 2020.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard, 43, who once competed at national level as Gavin Hubbard and transitioned in her mid-30s, said in a statement.

Hubbard has met the eligibility criteria of the NZOC, the International Weightlifting Federation and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), including IOC guidelines for transgender athletes.

“We acknowledge that gender identity in sport is a highly sensitive and complex issue requiring a balance between human rights and fairness on the field of play,” said NZOC chief executive officer Kereyn Smith.

“As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of manaaki (support) and inclusion and respect for all.”

Hubbard, who won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and was sixth in 2019 after sustaining a significant injury while competing in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, was assured of an Olympic spot by finishing seventh in the women’s +87 kilograms category and the first weightlifter from Oceania in the final list of the International Weightlifting Federation.

“When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was advised that my sporting career had likely reached its end. But your support, your encouragement, and your aroha carried me through the darkness,” she said.

Hubbard’s best total in qualifying is 285kg, which places her among the most outstanding Olympians and with a chance of a medal in the Japanese capital.

In 2015 the IOC published guidelines that allow any transgender athlete to compete as a woman as long as their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months prior to their first competition. EFE

© 2021 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.


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