Athletes competing in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics have had a longer wait than usual to get to the Olympic Village after the games were delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And while fans wait to see their favourite athletes compete on the world stage, many eyes are on one weightlifter in particular.

Laurel Hubbard, 43, has become the first transgender person to be selected to compete at the Olympic Games.

The New Zealander transitioned from male to female in 2012 and will represent the Kiwis in the women’s weightlifting.

Hubbard used to compete in junior weightlifting several years ago before she transitioned - but she quit altogether in 2001.

Laurel Hubbard will make history as the first transgender woman to compete at the Olympic Games (

Image:

Getty Images)

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Speaking about her decision, she said: "It just became too much to bear... just the pressure of trying to fit into a world that perhaps wasn't really set up for people like myself."

Five years after her transition, in 2017, Hubbard began competing in international weightlifting and won gold at the Australian International & Australian Open in Melbourne that same year.

The following year, she was also selected to compete in the Commonwealth Games but had to pull out due to injury.

At 43 years old, she’ll be the fourth oldest weightlifter to compete at the Olympic Games.

After her selection, Hubbard released a statement that read: “I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders.”

And she’s also likely to be one of the most talked about competitors ever, with several voices claiming she might have an unfair advantage because she went through male puberty before her transition in 2012.

Her selection has caused upset among some who have claimed Hubbard’s place in the games has cost 21-year-old Tongan weightlifter Kuinini Manumu her place in the Olympics.

Hubbard’s inclusion was made possible due to a change in the International Olympic Committee’s rules to state athletes who have transitioned from male to female can still compete in women’s categories if their testosterone levels are kept low.

Hubbard has had incredible success in her career but didn't compete as an adult until after she transitioned (

Image:

Getty Images)

While Hubbard has won support from supporters of trans rights and several athletes and ex-athletes, others have criticised the IOC’s decision to allow her to compete.

Some scientific research suggests that, even with testosterone suppression, athletes such as Hubbard can still have an advantage - finding that elements such as power and strength can still be stronger.

And last month, Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen said that, while she fully supported the transgender community, she didn’t think it was fair for Hubbard to compete in the women’s 84kg+ category.

She said: "Anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.”

However, Hubbard has received support from her home nation, who are backing her all the way.

New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said: “As well as being among the world's best for her event, Laurel has met the IWF eligibility criteria, including those based on IOC Consensus Statement guidelines for transgender athletes.”

Debates aside, Hubbard’s historic appearance in the Olympic Games will draw many viewers and she’s tipped to bring home a medal for New Zealand.