The Tokyo Olympics have been highly anticipated by the public after a year's hiatus due to coronavirus forced the Games to be postponed.
As we near July 23rd, more and more world-class athletes secure their place on the plane to Japan. Two of the latest to be headed to the Olympics are Laurel Hubbard and Alice Dearing, who will both make history when they compete in their respective sports.
For the first time in history, the Olympics will welcome a transgender competitor in weightlifting champion Hubbard and Team GB's first black female swimmer in Dearing.
The two will mark a major milestone in the record books and will undoubtedly contribute to squashing discrimination and stigma in sport. Let's take a look at the two trailblazing athletes set to make their Olympic debut...
Laurel Hubbard, New Zealand
The 43-year-old already has two major medals under her belt but has never represented her nation at the Olympic Games. Hubbard will compete in the women's weightlifting super heavyweight category (87kg) after impressing in the trials leading up to this summer.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently changed its guidelines, stating that transgender athletes are eligible to compete in women's events, providing their testosterone levels meet a certain criteria. Hubbard fully complies with these new rules set – after her transition 10 years ago, her testosterone levels fall below the maximum threshold set by the IOC.
"I am grateful and humbled by the kindness and support that has been given to me by so many New Zealanders," Hubbard recently commented on her Olympic selection.
Unfortunately, this process has sparked a lot of controversy among supporters and athletes alike, with Anna Vanbellinghen publicly airing her disagreement. The Belgian said Hubbard's inclusion is "like a bad joke", which has created a harmful stigma around transgender athletes attempting to compete in their respective sports.
Alice Dearing, United Kingdom
The 24-year-old will set a huge benchmark for Great Britain as she prepares to become the first ever black woman to represent her nation in an Olympic swimming event.
Her fourth-place finish in a 10km race in Setubal secured her spot on the plane to Tokyo next month.
Dearing has been dreaming of this exact moment ever since the UK went into its first national lockdown a year and a half ago. Not only is she ready to make history for her nation, but she is determined to use her platform and position within the sport to promote inclusivity.
The swimmer co-founded the Black Swimming Association, working towards creating a safe space for rising swimming stars of colour like herself and promote them on the same level as other athletes.
Having both Dearing and Hubbard at the Olympics this year is a huge step towards making sport a more diverse place, with achievements from all backgrounds celebrated equally.News Now - Sport News