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June 22, 2021

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NZ weightlifter first transgender Olympic athlete

NEW Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard was selected as the first transgender Olympic athlete yesterday after Kiwi officials made a groundbreaking call on “a highly sensitive and complex issue.”

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief Kereyn Smith said Hubbard, 43 — who was born male but transitioned to female in her 30s — met all the qualification criteria for transgender athletes.

“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.

“As the New Zealand team, we have a strong culture of manaaki (caring) and inclusion and respect for all.”

Hubbard, who also competed as a male, became eligible to lift as a woman after showing testosterone levels below the threshold required by the International Olympic Committee.

She will compete in the women’s +87 kilogram category in Tokyo, an event in which she is currently ranked as 16th in the world.

Former New Zealand weightlifter Tracey Lambrechs, who was forced to drop a division to make the 2018 Commonwealth Games because Hubbard was selected in her preferred event, said the move was unfair.

Lambrechs, now retired, said concerns of female-born athletes had been ignored.

“Everyone’s just shut up and worried about how they’ll be viewed in regards to talking out about transgender athletes,” she told Radio New Zealand. Lambrechs said if Hubbard made the podium in her event then another medal of the same color should be awarded to the athlete who placed after her.

“If Laurel was to win gold then the next biological female should also win gold ... then Laurel would be an Olympic champion as a transgender and then we would have our female athlete as an Olympic champion as well,” she said.

IOC rules state a trans woman can compete if her testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter.


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