Cover Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will be the first transgender athlete to compete at Olympics (Photo: Getty Images)

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has made history by becoming the first-ever transgender athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete at Olympics after being selected to represent her country on Monday. The 43-year-old Hubbard, who’s entering the women’s 87kg category, will be the oldest lifter at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a 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] carried me through the darkness."

Hubbard had previously competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013, according to reports. She has become eligible to take part in the upcoming Games under the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) guidelines, which was updated in 2015 to allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s competitions as long as their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months.

Speaking of Hubbard’s inclusion in the Games, Kereyn Smith, CEO of the New Zealand Olympic Committee said the athlete had met IOC and the International Weightlifting Federation's selection criteria. “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,” said Smith. “As the New Zealand Team, we have a strong culture of…inclusion and respect for all.”

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