Hubbard set for Olympics after qualification change

Laurel Hubbard
Laurel Hubbard
Queenstown's Laurel Hubbard appears set to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

A rule change would effectively guarantee the weightlifter became the first transgender athlete to appear at an Olympics, according to reports.

Hubbard has not yet been named to the New Zealand team.

However, the report said the IOC approved an amendment to qualifying criteria as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of many qualifying competitions. That means on current rankings Hubbard will qualify.

Hubbard competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013.

She has been eligible to compete in the Olympics since 2015.

That was when the IOC issued new guidelines allowing any transgender athlete to compete as a woman.

The provision was that their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition.

Weightlifting New Zealand’s high performance coach Simon Kent believes that appears a formality.

"The indication as this stage is that she is training well so all things being equal ... the hope is that she will be in the right physical and mental state to be put in that position [and be selected]," Kent told RNZ.

"There’s no immediate rush to say you have got to have hit certain numbers at certain points but we will look over the next two to three weeks as to where they are tracking and then we will go through that nomination process."

While Hubbard’s previous international outings have drawn scrutiny, Kent said he was accepting that would be even greater at Tokyo.

Hubbard competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, before claiming a gold medal at the 2019 Pacific Games — beating Commonwealth champion Feagaiga Stowers in the process.

USA Weightlifting added its support to Hubbard yesterday, saying it had no issue with her competing.

"We respect the rules established by the International Weightlifting Federation and the International Olympic Committee for qualification and will be focusing on assisting our athletes to compete against all those who are qualified for the Tokyo Games," spokesman Kevin Farley told Reuters.

The Games begin on July 23.

The Otago Daily Times was unable to contact Hubbard yesterday.

Additional reporting RNZ and Reuters






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