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A weightlifter heading to the Tokyo Olympics next month has slammed the decision to allow a transgender athlete compete.
Laurel Hubbard shocked the sporting world last month when it was revealed she received the green light to go to the 2021 Games.
The New Zealander will become the first trans athlete to compete at an Olympic level after she passed all the relevant tests.
But fellow weightlifter, Anna Vanbellinghen, who will be in the same category Hubbard in Tokyo, said the inclusion of transgender athletes should not come 'at the expense of others.'
The Belgian competitor told insidethegames her statement isn't meant to be transphobic but is simply about fairness.
"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," she said.
"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.
"I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes, the whole thing feels like a bad joke."
New rule changes from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have granted Hubbard the ability to qualify for the women's super heavyweight (87kg-plus) category for weightlifting.
The 43-year-old previously competed in men's competitions before transitioning back in 2013.
In 2015, the IOC made amendments to their qualifying guidelines which ultimately allowed for trans athletes to compete in women's events depending on their testosterone levels.
As long as the athlete's levels of testosterone were 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months prior to competition, they were eligible to compete.
While some opponents of trans inclusion in sports argue there is a 'biological advantage' when transitioning from male to female, some trans athletes have revealed hormone replacement actually decreased their natural athletic abilities and caused them to lose muscles mass and stamina, according to ABC News.
For the Olympic Games, Hubbard's inclusion will serve as a landmark moment. But for Hubbard herself, she'll be purely focused on coming away from Tokyo with a medal wrapped round her neck.
She is currently ranked fourth overall out of the 14 other qualifiers in the super heavyweight class, meaning she has a genuine shot of clinching gold.
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