Weightlifter Laurel Hubbard's selection as the first transgender athlete to represent New Zealand at a Commonwealth Games forced veteran Tracey Lambrechs to "train like a beast".

Hubbard has been picked in the 90kg+ class to compete at the event on the Gold Coast next April after victories at this year's Australian Open and Commonwealth Championships.

Olympic Weightlifting New Zealand said she met International Olympic Committee regulations related to acceptable testosterone levels after transitioning.

The 39-year-old's selection saw Lambrechs drop into the under-90kg bracket as she looks to build on her bronze medal success in the 75kg+ category at the Glasgow Games.


Rather than installing a padlocked fridge or getting a buffet restraining order, Lambrechs achieved her goal through old-fashioned dietary discipline.

"It was a real trial dropping the body weight," the 32-year-old said ahead of her third Games.

"At first I wasn't very open to it, but it was either that or retire… and I'm not ready for that. To drop 17-18kg was challenging, and I hadn't been challenged like that in a long time."

The decision resulted in some hard dieting last Christmas, but a support network of family, friends and teammates kept her motivated.

"I dropped the weight, now the goal's to keep it off.

"One of the main things is having meals prepared before I get home, because that's when I tend to eat everything in sight. A dietician looks after me, and helps me look at the bigger picture.

"I can have chocolate or sushi now, but I always think how much harder it might be to make the Games weight. I want to work now and get the rewards afterwards."

Lambrechs' achievement prompted Dame Valerie Adams to make a cameo appearance during the Herald's interview at the Millennium Institute's gym on Auckland's North Shore.

Adams and Lambrechs have been long-term training partners through several Olympic and Commonwealth Games campaigns.

The double Olympic champion said the work Lambrechs put in to get to the new weight class was "phenomenal".

"Most other people would probably have given up, given where's she at with her career, how old she is and the politics around the scenario [of Hubbard's selection and whether she might have a physiological and mental edge over rivals having once achieved similar lifts as a male].

"You can't change that, but I'm proud of Tracey and I'll hopefully see her there. It's awesome to see athletes progress, hang in there, and fight for something they are passionate about."

"I think Valerie's fighting with my nieces to be my biggest fan," Lambrechs, aka Aunty Tracey, added.

"I've certainly had my share of hard times in my career, like various surgeries, missing out of the London Olympics and battling to get to Rio.

"You just have to ask: why am I doing the sport? My nieces [eight-year-old Michelle and six-year-old Ashleigh] love the fact I'm out there. I love making them proud of me, and my Dad and Mum are proud of me. Those things drive me."

That's complemented by a poster on the wall at the Millennium Institute gym. Lambrechs is pictured at the apex of her clean and jerk lift in Glasgow with 136kg on the bar. The image radiates euphoria.

"I still remember that moment and that feeling. That's the good thing about training here. When I walk in I see it and remember how I felt, the emotions, and the rush that came afterwards."

New Zealand will send a 12-strong weightlifting team to the Gold Coast.

Richie Patterson returns in the under-85 kilogram class, making him the first Kiwi lifter to compete at four Commonwealth Games.