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Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard to become first trans athlete to compete at Olympics

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Laurel Hubbard

New Zealand has named Laurel Hubbard to its women’s weightlifting roster for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, making Hubbard the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the games.

Hubbard, 43, will compete in the category for women over 87 kg, about 192 pounds.

“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 on Monday. “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.”

But Hubbard’s selection is not without controversy. Some argue that because Hubbard went through male puberty, she will have an unfair advantage over her competitors.

Hubbard has satisfied the IOC’s requirements for trans women

Hubbard has met the International Olympic Committee’s requirements for athletes who transition from male to female. The requirements stipulate that the athlete must declare that her gender identity is female and can’t change that status for sports purposes for at least four years. The athlete’s testosterone level must stay below 10 nanomoles per liter.

Those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete in the male category without restriction.

Hubbard transitioned to female eight years ago at age 35. Before her transition, Hubbard competed in men’s events, setting national records in junior competition, according to The Associated Press.

Hubbard’s inclusion will be a vital signal for trans youth, says Schuyler Bailar, a trans man who competed in Division I men’s swimming for four years at Harvard University.

“The power of inclusion, especially the power of visible inclusion, can be lifesaving,” Bailar says. “I know for me, not seeing other transgender athletes out there, especially other folks in swimming and just specifically trans people everywhere, I didn’t think that I could exist, and I didn’t think I could be myself in my sport. And when I felt like I couldn’t be myself in my sport, I felt like I couldn’t be myself anywhere.”

Some argue Hubbard will have an unfair advantage

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that even after a year of hormone therapy, trans women on average had an advantage over cisgender, or nontransgender, women.

Anna Vanbellinghen, a Belgian weightlifter who is likely to compete against Hubbard, said in May that Hubbard’s presence in the competition would not be fair.

“First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community and that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of rejection of this athlete’s identity,” Vanbellinghen told Olympics news site Inside the Games.

“I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult since there is an infinite variety of situations and that reaching an entirely satisfactory solution, from either side of the debate, is probably impossible.

“However, 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.”

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith welcomed Hubbard to the contingent, while acknowledging the tensions.

“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. 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,” Smith said in a statement.

Athletes bring a range of biological differences to competition

Chelsea Wolfe, a freestyle BMX rider, is an alternate for the U.S. women’s squad. If one of the two riders ahead of her dropped out, she would be the first openly trans member of Team USA. The website Outsports reported last month that there were at least nine trans or nonbinary athletes vying for spots on Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Bailar, the former Harvard swimmer, notes that the debate over trans women in sports often centers on questions of fairness and biological advantages.

“Here’s the thing: Sports are based on biological differences,” he says. “When we have athletes like Michael Phelps, who is tall — he’s built for swimming. He has half the levels of lactic acid the average athlete produces, and nobody calls that unfair.”

“When women have biological differences, they are called unfair as opposed to when men do, they are just called superior athletes,” Bailar says. “The reality is that cis women even exhibit plenty of differences within sports. And that’s not unfair. That’s just differences in bodies.”

In a 2017 interview with New Zealand news site Stuff, Hubbard noted that she competes under rules established by the International Olympic Committee in 2003 to allow transgender athletes to compete.

“This isn’t a new thing. Perhaps the fact that it has taken so long for someone like myself to come through indicates that perhaps some of the problems that people are suggesting aren’t perhaps what they might seem,” Hubbard said.

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Nigeria Edge Cape Verde in Qatar World Cup Qualifier

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The Super Eagles continued their 100 per cent record against Cape Verde in their second match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

The Nigerian team won the game 2-1 after staging a comeback.

A 75th-minute own goal by Cape Verde earned Nigeria a 2-1 win in their qualifying clash in Mindelo on Tuesday, a result that stabilized the Super Eagles’ leadership of the pool as they await a home-and-away fixture against Central African Republic next month.

Dylan dos Santos steered the home team in front after 19 minutes of an intense back-and-forth by both sides, when he slipped behind the Eagles’ rearguard and slammed a rocket of a shot past goalkeeper Maduka Okoye.

The three-time African champions refused to be brow-beaten, and launched series of attacks, with Chidera Ejuke forcing the opposing goalkeeper to an acrobatic save in the 27th minute. Two minutes later, an alert Victor Osimhen would pull Nigeria level, stabbing home from close range after the goalkeeper punched following a defensive blunder.

In the 41st minute, the lively Ejuke again rattled the Cape Verde number one, before Osimhen came close to adding another one from a corner with a minute to recess.

Kelechi Iheanacho and six other UK-based players were absent when the Super Eagles played the Blue Sharks in Mindelo.

The players were forced out from the tie after the UK government insisted individuals who travel to “red zones” — which Cape Verde falls into — must quarantine for 10 days upon return.

Aside from the seven UK-based players, Serie A defender, Ola Aina, also did not travel with the squad to Mindelo, and returned to Italy instead.

In the second half, Ahmed Musa latched onto a centre by Osimhen as the Eagles pushed forward, but his tame shot was easily collected. Substitute Onyekuru was also guilty of putting too low a purchase on his shot in the 73rd minute as Nigeria streamed to the opposition area.

Two minutes later, in a spectacular backpass to his goalkeeper, Kenny Santos scored an own goal as the ball floated above the goaltender and landed in the net. The goal put Nigeria in front and eventually gave the Super Eagles the three points on the night.

Victory took the Eagles to maximum six points from two matches, three points ahead of second –placed Liberia, ahead of the Day 3 and 4 games scheduled for October.

 

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WC Qualifier: Nigeria to face Cape Verde without UK-based Stars

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The Super Eagles will tackle the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde this afternoon in Match Day 2 of Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier without the services of UK-based players.

The Super Eagles contingent landed on the island of Mindelo yesterday morning, after a four-hour flight from Lagos aboard a special Air Peace jet.

There were 21 players on board, following the departure of UK-based players, who returned to their base as a result of UK authorities COVID-19 protocols and guidelines that must be observed by anyone returning to Britain after visiting a country with COVID-19 red label, of which Cape Verde is one.

Today’s encounter, scheduled for the 5,000 –capacity Estádio Municipal Adérito Sena, affords a number of ambitious fresh legs not deployed in Friday’s 2-0 win over Liberia in Lagos to stake claims for permanent shirts in the Nigerian squad.

The absence of Olaoluwa Aina, William Ekong, and Leon Balogun probably means that Italy –based Tyronne Ebuehi, Chidozie Awaziem of FC Boavista in Portugal, and Spain–based Kenneth Omeruo will start against the Blue Sharks this evening.

The departures of two-goal hero Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi also open the door for perhaps Terem Moffi and Henry Onyekuru. But it is in the midfield that Coach Gernot Rohr would have to enlist entirely unaccustomed partners and charge them to deliver.

Oghenekaro Etebo, Wilfred Ndidi, and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo have all returned to the UK.

Coach Rohr may opt to deploy the versatile Abdullahi Shehu to the midfield as he has done a couple of times, most recently in Sierra Leone against the Leone Stars in a 2021 AFCON qualifier. Russia–based Chidera Ejuke, Italy–based former junior international Kingsley Michael, and new face Innocent Bonke from Sweden are available.

Captain Ahmed Musa will earn his 100th cap for Nigeria, 11 years after he won his first against Madagascar in Calabar if he takes any part in today’s encounter.

Three points will consolidate Nigeria’s leadership of Group C, confirmed after the victory over Liberia that followed the draw between Cape Verde and the Central African Republic in Douala. A win will guarantee Nigeria a minimum of three points ahead of any other team in the pool, even if Liberia’s Lone Star is victorious against Central African Republic in Monrovia.

A win will also brighten the path of the three–time African champions to the knockout final round, given that home-and-away fixture against the Central African Republic is what is on the plate in October.

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Conte breaks silence, says pre-deal with Arsenal not true

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Antonio Conte’s agent, Federico Pastorello has revealed that the coach has not agreed to a pre-deal with Arsenal FC.

There have been speculations that Conte is in line to replace Mikel Arteta at the Emirates after the later failed to win a single game this season in the Premier League.

The Gunners have also not recorded any goal in their defeats to Brentford, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Although Conte is out of work since leaving Inter Milan, he is not close to returning to the dugout.

Transfer specialist, Fabrizio Romano, tweeted: “There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre-agreement with any club and he’s free.

“Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

There’s absolutely NO pre agreement between Antonio Conte and Arsenal. Conte has no verbal/pre agreement with any club and he’s free.

Federico Pastorello – agent close to Conte since years – confirms to @Freddie_Paxton: “Rumours about Arsenal pre-deal are not true”.

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 5, 2021

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