We might have an openly transgender Olympian in the near future.
New Zealand athlete Laurel Hubbard has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, according to France24. The 43-year-old, who transitioned in her 30s, has become eligible for the Tokyo Olympics in women’s weightlifting after showing testosterone levels below the threshold required by the International Olympic Committee. She’s hoping to join New Zealand’s team and contest the women’s +87kg category, an event in which she’s currently ranked 16th in the world. In addition, her current best total of 285 kilograms makes her a frontrunner for a medal.
“The NZOC can confirm that revised international federation (IF) qualification systems are very likely to see a number of New Zealand weightlifters, including Commonwealth Games transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard, allocated an IF quota spot for Tokyo 2020,” the New Zealand Olympic Committee said.
Due to many competitions being lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, Laurel Hubbard’s placement within the Tokyo Olympics is looking likely. If she goes to the Tokyo Olympics, Hubbard would become the first openly transgender athlete to qualify and compete at the Olympic Games. She would also be the oldest weightlifter at Tokyo 2020.
Hubbard has already made several career-making records. Hubbard became the first transgender Commonwealth Games athlete at the Gold Coast in 2018. Unfortunately, according to Inside the Games, Hubbard also experienced a near career-ending injury at that competition. The weightlifter received a serious elbow injury that made her consider retiring. But ever the preserver, she decided to continue with the sport that she loves.
If Laurel Hubbard does get chosen for the official New Zealand team, her presence will surely cause a whirlwind of controversy. The topic of transgender athletes has become a hotly contested issue in many countries (and most notably in the United States of America). Though, it was the Australian Weightlifting Federation tried to block Laurel Hubbard from competing at the Gold Coast. It argued she held a physical advantage over female-born athletes despite her low testosterone levels.
“In our respectful view, the current criteria and its application has the potential to devalue women’s weightlifting and discourage female-born athletes from pursuing the sport at an elite level in the future,” it said at the time.
Laurel Hubbard, however, says she tries to ignore the pushback and criticism.
“If I try and take that weight on board it just makes the lifts harder… I am who I am,” she told 1 News in 2017. “I don’t want to change the world. I just want to be me and do what I do.”
The entry deadline for the Tokyo Olympics is July 5.