Story at a glance

  • New Zealand Olympic Committee chief Kereyn Smith said Monday that 43-year-old Laurel Hubbard qualified to compete in Tokyo.
  • “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,” Smith said.
  • “As the New Zealand team, we have a strong culture of manaaki [caring] and inclusion and respect for all,” Smith continued.

A New Zealand weightlifter has become the first transgender athlete selected for the Olympic games.

New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) chief Kereyn Smith said Monday that 43-year-old Laurel Hubbard qualified for the games in Tokyo in July. 

"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," Smith said in a statement, per NBC sports.

"As the New Zealand team, we have a strong culture of manaaki [caring] and inclusion and respect for all," Smith continued.


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Hubbard previously competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in her 30s. She has met guidelines set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which stipulate that the total testosterone level for an athlete transitioning from male to female must remain below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least a year. Additionally, the athlete’s gender identity cannot be changed for four years. 

"We do know that there are many questions about fairness of transgender athletes competing in the Olympic Games but I would like to take this opportunity to remind us all that Laurel has met all of the required criteria," Smith told reporters Monday, according to Reuters

Hubbard has not competed against men since 2001 when she was 23. 


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"I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders," Hubbard said in a statement issued by NZOC on Monday. 

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

The Tokyo Olympics are slated to begin July 23. 


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Published on Jun 21, 2021