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Tokyo 2020

Tokyo Olympics will see a transgender athlete for the first time ever

A 43-year-old weightlifter from New Zealand, Laurel Hubbard, is set to become the first-ever Transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics.

Tokyo Olympics will see a transgender athlete for the first time ever
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By

Abhijit Nair

Updated: 2021-06-02T12:55:10+05:30

A 43-year-old weightlifter from New Zealand, Laurel Hubbard, is set to become the first-ever Transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics.

Though Hubbard has not been named in the New Zealand Olympic contingent until now, she is expected to gain automatic qualification to the Games because of revised rules by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) according to The Guardian.

Hubbard is a silver medallist from the 2017 World Championships and finished sixth at the 2019 World Championships following an injury.

Besides being the first-ever transgender at the Olympics, Hubbard might well be the oldest lifter at Tokyo and still be a genuine medal contender. Her Olympic qualifying lifts ranks fourth amongst the 14 lifters who have qualified for the Women's 87kg+ Super Heavy category.

Good step towards inclusivity

Laurel Hubbard competing at the Olympics might be a real good step towards inclusivity, but it is expected to draw some sharp criticisms from various quarters about how she has an unfair advantage.

Various scientific research papers published in recent times indicate that people who undergo puberty as male retain significantly higher level of powers despite taking medications to suppress testosterone levels in the body.


But per the guidelines issued by the IOC in 2015, an athlete who has changed gender from male to female can compete in the Women's category without removing the testes. This, though, applies only if the athlete keeps the testosterone level in serum below 10 nanomoles per litre for a minimum of one year.

Hubbard spent a good 35 years of her life as a man and did not compete in a single international weightlifting event. It was only after her transition in the year 2012 that she started competing and clinching medals at the highest level.

Currently ranked number 16th in the world, Laurel Hubbard is expected to bag the second regional quota from Oceania behind Feagaiga Stowers of Samoa because at least six of the lifters ranked above her are not in contention due to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) rule which permits every country just one athlete in a category.


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