Trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard set to become first transgender Olympic athlete at Tokyo 2020

Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is on track to become the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics after meeting modified qualifying requirements for the Tokyo Games.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) said the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) had amended its qualifying due to the impact of COVID-19, putting Hubbard in the frame for selection.

Super-heavyweight Hubbard, 43, competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013.

“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 NZOC said in a statement.

“A previous requirement to attend six competition events has been reduced to four due to the impact of COVID-19.”

Hubbard won silver at the 2017 world championships and sits 16th in the world rankings.

She has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015, when the IOC issued guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

The NZOC said it expected nomination and selection for its weightlifting team would not happen until June, when it would have a final list of qualified athletes from the IWF.

“Prior to that all athletes must provide evidence of capability to finish in the top 16 at the Games, with the potential to achieve a top 8 placing,” the NZOC added.

Australia’s weightlifting federation sought to block Hubbard from competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast but organisers rejected the move.

Rival weightlifters and coaches at the Commonwealth Games also complained. Hubbard withdrew from the tournament after injuring herself lifting.

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