Wellington [New Zealand], June 21 (ANI): New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympics after she was selected for the women's event at the upcoming Tokyo Games on Monday.
New Zealand Olympic Committee which announced four other members of the weightlifting team in an official statement also stated that Hubbard will compete in the women's 87-kilogram category for the nation.
"The weightlifting team is Kanah Andrews-Nahu (women's -87kg), Laurel Hubbard (women's +87kg), Megan Signal (women's -76kg), David Liti (men's +109kg), and Cameron McTaggart (men's -81kg). Each of the athletes will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo but bring with them significant international experience," New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) statement read.
Laurel Hubbard, 43, is heading for her first Olympic Games having made a remarkable comeback to her sport following a significant injury in 2018.
The lifter, who hails from Auckland, returned to competition in 2019 and performed strongly throughout the rest of the year and into 2020. Hubbard has been confirmed eligible having met the IWF, IOC, and NZOC eligibility criteria, including IWF eligibility criteria for athletes who transition from male to female based on IOC Consensus Statement guidelines.
On hearing of her selection, Hubbard highlighted the challenges she had faced in her journey to the Olympic Games. Thanking her supporters, she also reflected on the strength of community that has been evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders," said Hubbard in a statement issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC).
"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.
"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 mana of the silver fern comes from all of you and I will wear it with pride."
"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 Kereyn Smith, CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, in the statement.
"As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of manaaki and inclusion and respect for all," Smith said. "We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing, along with their high-performance needs, while preparing for and competing at the Olympic Games are met." (ANI)