Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has spoken out ahead of her competition at the Tokyo games, thanking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for making sport “inclusive”.
Hubbard is set to make history on 2 August when she becomes the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the history of the Olympic Games.
She rarely gives media interviews but has released a statement ahead of her performance in the 87kg women’s category through the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
“The Olympic Games are a global celebration of our hopes, our ideals and our values. I commend the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible,” she said.
Hubbard’s participation as part of the New Zealand Olympic team has been accompanied by polarising reactions, with the decision receiving swathes of support and criticism.
Some have said that her inclusion marks a turning point for the LGBT+ community in competitive sports while others argue that trans women have an inherent physiological advantage.
Hubbard transitioned in 2012 at 35-years-old and underwent hormone therapy in the same year. She subsequently met all of the requirements of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) regulations for participation in the games.
“I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard previously said in a statement in June when her selection was announced.
She added: “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.”
New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary-general Kereyn Smith said the athlete had arrived in Tokyo “a couple of days ago” and that they “understand that she’s comfortable”.
She said: “She’s getting ready. She well understands the size of the stage and is very grateful to be able to compete in this environment.”
Reporting by the Associated Press