New Zealand weightlifting has selected a transgender athlete for this month's Australian International, believed to be a first in New Zealand sport.
Weightlifting officials told the Herald that Laurel Hubbard will be competing in the 90kg+ female category at the event. The tournament goes some way to determining Commonwealth Games selection so Hubbard is in prime position to compete for New Zealand at next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
The selection of Hubbard, the daughter of cereal magnate and former Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard, is a pioneering moment in sport for the LBGT community.
Hubbard, 39, declined to be interviewed, saying through Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand general manager Emma Pilkington that she just wanted to "concentrate on preparing for her first international competition".
Garry Marshall, president of the Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand, said Hubbard, who once competed as Gavin Hubbard, will be picked for the Commonwealth Games, form permitting. "She has indicated she wishes to compete internationally," Marshall, who believed Hubbard would be a great chance of a Commonwealth Games medal next year.
Hubbard is the top-ranked 90kg+ female lifter in the country. With a personal best snatch of 122kg and a clean and jerk of 140kg, her 262kg total is, according to OWNZ records, 22kg more than Rio de Janeiro Olympic representative Tracey Lambrechs, who is looking to drop down a weight class.
Marshall acknowledged Hubbard's selection had created some issues among other female lifters but said the position of OWNZ was simple.
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(The participation of transgender or transsexual individuals in competitive sports is a controversial issue. Opposition to transgender or transsexual individuals competing in sporting events generally focuses on a perceived unfair advantage, especially in relation to hormonal factors, such as higher testosterone levels.)