New Zealand Weightlifter To Become First Man To Compete In Womens’ Olympics

In a move that is tragically perhaps more absurd than it is surprising, weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to become the first man to compete in the womens’ Olympics following New Zealand’s selection of him this past Monday. 

Hubbard will compete in the super-heavyweight 87+kg category, with qualifying requirements in May making her selection possible.

The 43 year old had competed in multiple men’s weightlifting competitions before declaring himself a woman in 2013. 

“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 issued by the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) on Monday.

NZOC chief Kereyn Smith said it was an “historic moment in sport and for the New Zealand team.”

“She is our first Olympian who has transitioned from male to female,” she said.

“We do know that there are many questions about fairness of transgender athletes competing in the Olympic Games but I would like to take this opportunity to remind us all that Laurel has met all of the required criteria.”

In a story from Breitbart, Hubbard’s selection reportedly resulted in an actual woman being displaced from the competition. The athlete in question is Kuinini ‘Nini’ Manumua, a 21 year old female powerlifter from the country of Tonga. 

Breitbart was not the only outlet to cover this, with Zachary Faria from the Washington Examiner writing, “Even if Hubbard doesn’t win a medal, the damage has been done. There are limited spots for competitors, so while Hubbard is in, Kuinini Manumua is out. At 21 years old, Manumua would be competing in her first-ever Olympic Games representing Tonga. Instead, she will sit at home, and Tonga currently remains at four Olympic competitors instead of the five it deserves.” 

“That’s one Olympic dream crushed, but it won’t end there. The Tokyo Olympics will mark the beginning of the end for the integrity of women’s sports,” Faria added.

The idea of men qualifying and playing in womens’ sports is not unprecedented, with another male powerlifter named May Gregory having smashed four women’s weightlifting records in May of 2019.