Laurel Hubbard could become New Zealand's first medallist at a weightlifting world championships this week.

The transgender athlete, formerly known as Gavin, will line up in the women's 90kg-plus class in Anaheim, California, on Wednesday afternoon (NZT).

She had to demonstrate her testosterone levels were below a certain threshold for 12 months before competing for New Zealand. Her combined starting entry weight of 280kg ranks her second behind Egyptian Shaimaa Ahmed Khalaf Haridy's 285kg among the 11 competitors.

Hubbard should have a decent medal opportunity across each of the clean and jerk, snatch and combined categories. The 39-year-old's personal best of 282kg (131kg snatch and 151kg clean and jerk) was set in Auckland on June 11.


Her best chance is expected to be in the snatch. Her 131kg lift, which she also achieved on the way to winning the World Masters Games in April, would place her ahead of all but one of her world championship rivals from performances last year.

Thailand's Chitchanok Pulsabsakul (132kg) was the exception before the class was raised from 75kg-plus to 90kg-plus this year.

Regarding her transition from male to female, the International Weightlifting Federation is working under the International Olympic Committee rules.

Hubbard is eligible within those. However, there is conjecture that making such a shift offers a mental edge. That argument was presented by Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan when Hubbard was named in New Zealand's Commonwealth Games team for the Gold Coast.

Keelan said it would create an "uneven playing field".

"We're in a power sport which is normally related to masculine tendencies ... where you've got that aggression, you've got the right hormones, then you can lift bigger weights.

"If you've been a male and you've lifted certain weights, then you suddenly transition to a female, psychologically you know you've lifted those weights before."

Rival athletes complained Hubbard had an unfair advantage after she won the Australian Open this year, lifting 123kg in the snatch and 145kg in the clean and jerk.


The situation is further complicated because instinct suggests Hubbard be allowed to compete as a human right, but that might not seem fair to those she competes against.

One source told the Herald the problem could be resolved if athletes were only allowed to compete in the gender of their birth.