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Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand Will Be First Trans Olympic Athlete

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard.

New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard is now set to become the first trans athlete to participate in the Olympics after the New Zealand Olympic Committee announced her addition to the national team on Monday.

In a statement announcing the five representatives for New Zealand in weightlifting, organizers said Hubbard, from Auckland, will participate in the women’s 87-kilogram category. They also said that she has been confirmed eligible by multiple sporting bodies.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” said Hubbard, 43, 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, and your aroha (love in Maori) carried me through the darkness,” she said.  

New Zealand Olympic Committee’s CEO Kereyn Smith welcomed Hubbard to the team in the announcement.

“As well as being among the world’s best for her event, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria including those based on IOC Consensus Statement guidelines 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, adding that the New Zealand Team has a culture of inclusion.

“We are committed to supporting all eligible New Zealand athletes and ensuring their mental and physical wellbeing, along with their high-performance needs, while preparing for and competing at the Olympic Games are met.”

Hubbard's inclusion on the team along with her fellow weightlifters brings the number of New Zealand's participants in this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo to 133.

"Laurel has shown grit and perseverance in her return from a significant injury and overcoming the challenges in building back confidence on the competition platform," Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand President Richie Patterson said in the statement.

"Laurel is an astute student of the sport and technically very good with the lifts. We look forward to supporting her in her final preparations towards Tokyo.”

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