Story at a glance

  • New Zealand athlete Laurel Hubbard is set to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
  • Transgender athletes have been allowed to compete in the Olympics since 2003.
  • At 43, she will also be the oldest women’s weightlifting contestant.

The 2021 Olympics will make history with the first transgender athlete slated to participate, thanks to a recent rule change.

Laurel Hubbard, 43, is a New Zealand competitive weightlifter, and has qualified to compete in the Tokyo Games, according to Inside the Games. She will also be the oldest athlete in the women’s weightlifting category.

Hubbard is allowed to participate following an updated qualifying evaluation system by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The topic of trans women competing in women’s athletic events has generated recent controversy in the United States, with multiple states banning people born as biological males from participating in women and girls’ athletic activities.

In a 2017 interview following her 2017 silver medal win during a World Championships tournament, Hubbard said that “I think even 10 years ago the world perhaps wasn't ready for an athlete like myself - and perhaps it is not ready now.”

“But I got the sense at least that people were willing to consider me for these competitions and it seemed like the right time to put the boots on and hit the platform,” she added, noting that trans athletes have been permitted access to qualify and participate in the Olympics since 2003.

Hubbard’s personal best in qualifying is 285 kilograms, which amounts to about 628 pounds. 


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Published on May 06, 2021