Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics.
Hubbard was among five weightlifters confirmed Monday for New Zealand’s team for the Tokyo Games.
She will also be the oldest weightlifter at the Games and will be ranked fourth in the women’s heavyweight division. Hubbard won a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships and gold in the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. She competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but sustained a serious injury that set back her career.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said. “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 [love] carried me through the darkness.
“The last eighteen months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common purpose.”
The additional burden Hubbard has had to carry is that her efforts have made her a flashpoint in the debate around the fairness of transgender athletes competing in women’s events. She has faced anger, scorn and ridicule, and has been directly criticized by her opponents.
Competing as Gavin Hubbard, her birth name, Hubbard set national records in junior competition and had a best, combined snatch and clean and jerk total of 300 kilograms.
Hubbard transitioned eight years ago at the age of 35. She has since met all of the requirements of the International Olympic Committee’s regulations for transgender athletes and fair competition.
The competition in the women’s 87-kilogram-plus category will be held on Aug. 2.