Daily Digest: Jacinda Ardern backs transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard

In today’s news: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern backs transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, Team GB’s match against Zambia is cancelled, and Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe are named to Britain’s Olympic artistic swimming team.

Jacinda Ardern offers support to Laurel Hubbard

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken out in support of weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who will become the first transgender athlete to compete at the Olympics this summer.

Hubbard, who transitioned 10 years ago, will compete in the women's super heavyweight category at Tokyo 2020. The 43-year-old met the eligibility standards set by the International Olympic Committee and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

In light of the controversy surrounding the participation of transgender athletes at the Olympic Games, Ardern has offered her support to Hubbard.

"All parties here have simply followed the rules," she said. "That's the case for Laurel but also the team in New Zealand, they have followed the rules.

Rival weightlifter Charisma Amoe-Tarrant also revealed she has no issue competing against Hubbard. "I have so much respect for her and wish her and the other lifters the best and hope we can all come together and enjoy the Olympics," she said.

Team GB match against Zambia cancelled

Team GB’s clash against Zambia next month has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The friendly had been organised as part of preparations for the women’s football tournament at the Olympic Games, and was due to be held at Stoke City's Bet365 Stadium on July 1st.

"Due to circumstances beyond everyone's control Zambia have had to withdraw from the game on 1 July,” a statement from the FA said. “The African nation had to pull out because of complications linked to COVID-19 restrictions.”

It is now unlikely Team GB will be able to play together before Tokyo 2020 gets underway next month. The side are in Group E and play Chile on July 21st, before facing hosts Japan on July 24th and Canada on July 27th.

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Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe named to British artistic swimming team

Shortman and Thorpe secured Britain's Olympic place earlier this month, finishing seventh in the free duet final at a qualifying event in Barcelona. The duo had also impressed at the European Aquatics Championships in May. Both athletes will be making their Olympic debuts this summer.

“We've seen from recent events that Kate and Izzy have a huge amount of talent," said Team GB's Mark England. "Their place on this team is fully deserved. There is no doubt that they will both relish the opportunity of making their Olympic debuts in Japan this summer.”

Team GB has been represented in artistic swimming, formerly known as synchronised swimming, at each Games since Beijing 2008.

Hockey player Ayeisha McFerran appeals for help after medal stolen

Ireland goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran has appealed for help after her silver medal from the 2018 Hockey World Cup was stolen. She posted on Twitter after the apartment in Utrecht was broken into and her medal, electronics and her late mother’s jewellery was stolen.

McFerran helped Ireland to the 2018 World Cup final, where her side were thrashed 6-0 by the Netherlands. She was named goalkeeper of the tournament.

McFerran also played a pivotal part in Ireland’s qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She currently plies her trade for Dutch team Kampong.

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Volleyball World launches "Equal Jersey" initiative

The "Equal Jersey" campaign will see volleyball stars champion gender equality by wearing a kit featuring their own name and that of a player of the opposite gender.

Lauren Carlini of the United States and Facundo Conte of Argentina will share the number seven jersey, Natalia Goncharova of Russia and Wallace de Souza of Brazi will share number eight, and number 14 will be shared by Eda Erdem of Turkey and Nimir Abdel-Aziz of The Netherlands.

The jerseys will be worn during the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2021 Finals on June 25th and 27th.

"While the rules in sports are often the same for all players, there remains a huge disparity between genders in sport which needs to be challenged," said Volleyball World, the sport’s global commercial entity.

"Volleyball aims to promote a level playing field across the sport with women's and men's major competitions receiving equal prize money and generating equal viewing figures. However, Volleyball World recognises there is always room to improve.

"This is why the sport of volleyball, through the equal jersey activation, aims to rectify this situation and score another point for gender equality."

Nancy Gillen

Interested in: Football

Nancy has experience in reporting across a range of sports, but is particularly passionate about increasing the coverage of women's sport. She can usually be found celebrating or lamenting the latest Arsenal result.