Recently it became known that 43-year-old transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard from New Zealand for the first time in the history of the Olympics qualified for the Summer Games, which this year will be held in Tokyo. The weightlifter, who competes in the weight category over 87 kg, passed all the selection criteria for the competition, including the one that applies only to transgender participants-Laurel confirmed that her testosterone level does not exceed the mark of 10 nanomoles per liter.
Formally, the selection for the Olympics will be completed only on July 5, but Hubbard is almost one hundred percent likely to take part in the Games. Laurel got a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics in many ways helped by the changes in the qualification system, which the IOC had to go to because of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the large number of canceled competitions during the world quarantine period, the selection rules for the Games were greatly simplified.
For this reason, Laurel is already called the favorite in the upcoming competitions, despite the fact that in her category she takes only 16th place. A lucky chance may help Hubbard to become the leader: some of her direct competitors, including Russian Tatyana Kashirina and several weightlifters from China, will not be able to come to the Olympics this year for various reasons.
In the history of the Olympic Games, Laurel Hubbard will go down not only as the first transgender participant, but also as the oldest weightlifter. The upcoming participation of the athlete in the Games has already caused a mixed reaction in the media and the sports community. So, the British journalist Piers Morgan said that a transgender athlete with a "biologically male body" has serious physical advantages over the rest of the participants, and considered it unfair. A similar opinion was expressed by the Russian Olympic champion in speed skating and State Duma deputy Svetlana Zhurova:
The beginning of the end of the Olympic movement. Now we will have men competing everywhere? Make a separate category in which such people will compete. By the way, I support the right of transgender people to participate in the Olympics, it is their normal human right. But we need to think about how to implement it. I think it is worth highlighting a separate category for such athletes.
In connection with this important news from the world of sports, MustHub decided to collect some interesting facts about the first transgender participant of the Olympic Games, Laurel Hubbard.
1. Prior to the transgender transition, Laurel was known as Gavin.
2. Laurel's father is former Oakland City mayor Dick Hubbard.
3. Prior to making the transition, Laurel was considered one of the leading male weightlifters in her country, but did not qualify for international tournaments.
4. Laurel made the transgender transition in 2012 — at that time she was 35 years old.
5. In 2012, Hubbard was appointed Executive Director of the New Zealand Olympic Weightlifting Federation.
6. Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to win an international weightlifting title in New Zealand. In 2017, she took silver at the World Championships.
7. In 2018, Laurel was considered the main contender for gold at the Commonwealth Games, but was unable to compete due to an elbow injury. In the same year, the weightlifting federation of Australia demanded that the athlete be removed from the Commonwealth Games, citing her physical advantages, but this was never done.
8. In 2019, Hubbard took the gold medal at the Pacific Games in Samoa. At the time, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said Hubbard should not have been allowed to compete.
9. In 2020, Laurel won the gold medal at the World Cup in Rome in the weight category over 87 kilograms, lifting 270 kg in total.
10. Hubbard rarely speaks to the press. Laurel gave her last interview in 2017 after winning silver at the World Championships. Then she said that the world, apparently, is not yet ready for such athletes as her.