By Muhaimin Olowoporoku and Agency Report
New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to become the first transgender athlete to compete in the Olympic Games.
She was selected to be part of New Zealand national team on Monday.
Laurel will compete in the women’s 87-kilogram category, according to a statement released by the New Zealand Olympic Committee that also announced the four other members of the weightlifting team.
The 43-year-old athlete qualified for the rescheduled Tokyo Games in May after a rule change, which effectively guaranteed her a spot in the super heavyweight category.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” said Hubbard in the statement.
“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 carried me through the darkness,” she said.
Previously, Hubbard competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before her transitioning in 2013.
She has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015 when the IOC issued new guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman provided their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition.
The 43-year-old was cleared for this Olympics after meeting criteria by the International Weightlifting Federation, International Olympic Committee, and New Zealand Olympic Committee, said the committee’s statement on Monday.
“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.