New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard To Become First Transgender Olympian

Weight lifter Laurel Hubbard. Image: NZOC/Getty

New Zealand’s weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics after being selected for the games in Tokyo.

Laurel Hubbard, 43, competed as a male weightlifter before transitioning in 2012 and returning to the sport in 2017.

She will participate in the women’s super-heavyweight category, the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) said in a statement on June 21.

NZOC chief executive Kereyn Smith said, “As well as being among the world’s best for her event, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria including those based on IOC Consensus Statement 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,” she added.

Laurel Hubbard said, “I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders.”

“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.

“The last 18 months has shown us all that there is strength in kinship, in community, and in working together towards a common purpose. The mana of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride,” she added.

Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Richie Patterson says Hubbard has worked extremely hard to qualify for the Olympic Games.

“Laurel has shown grit and perseverance in her return from a significant injury and overcoming the challenges in building back confidence on the competition platform,” said Patterson.

“Laurel is an astute student of the sport and technically very good with the lifts. We look forward to supporting her in her final preparations towards Tokyo,” he added.


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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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