Laurel Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to compete for New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games ©NZOC

Transgender athlete Laurel Hubbard has been selected to compete for New Zealand at Gold Coast 2018 after being named in their 12-strong weightlifting squad for the Commonwealth Games.

Hubbard will become the first transgender athlete to represent the country at the Games after securing qualification earlier this year.

The 39-year-old eased to victory at the Australian International in Melbourne in March, winning in the over-90 kilograms women's field.

Hubbard, born as Gavin before she transitioned, won the gold medal with ease which put her in line for possible selection to New Zealand's 2018 Commonwealth Games squad.

She passed the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) criteria for transgender athletes after proving her testosterone levels stayed below certain levels in the 12 months leading up to the event.

Her win, however, attracted criticism from opponents who claimed it was not fair to have a transgender athlete in the female category.

The IOC requires an athlete to demonstrate that "her total testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months prior to her first competition".

Hubbard was previously national junior record-holder in the male 105kg class before transitioning.

Australian Weightlifting Federation chief executive Michael Keelan has expressed concerns about Hubbard's participation in the women's event at his home Games.

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

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

"I personally don't think it's a level playing field.

"That's my personal view and I think it's shared by a lot of people in the sporting world."

New Zealand will be represented by 12 weightlifters at the Games ©Getty Images
New Zealand will be represented by 12 weightlifters at the Games ©Getty Images

In a statement, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) said the qualification and eligibility criteria was determined in partnership with International Federations (IFs), with the aim of achieving fairness across competitions.

"The CGF is working closely with Gold Coast 2018 to ensure the upcoming edition of the Games are the most inclusive and accessible Games in our history," the statement read.

"Working in close partnership with the CGF, relevant IFs establish qualification and eligibility criteria for athlete participation at the Commonwealth Games. 

"Each IF determines and applies a sport-specific eligibility framework which aims to ensure safety, fairness and universally consistent and applicable standards of competition."

Richie Patterson will also make history at Gold Coast 2018 with the weightlifter poised to become the first athlete from the sport to represent New Zealand at four Commonwealth Games.

Patterson will hope to defend the men's under-85kg he claimed at Glasgow 2014.

Stanislav Chalaev will hope to better the under-105kg silver medal he earned in the Scottish city, with Tracey Lambrechs aiming to improve on her bronze from the Games having moved into the women's under-90kg event.

The women's team also includes Aletha Boon and Andrea Miller, who previously competed at the Commonwealth Games in gymnastics and the women's 100 metre hurdles respectively.

Phillipa Patterson and Bailey Rogers will also form part of the women's team, while Vester Villalon, Cameron McTaggart, David Liti and Ianne Guinares are part of the men's squad.

"This is a team brimming with experience and there's also some really exciting young talent in the mix," Kereyn Smith, the New Zealand Olympic Committee's chief executive, said. 

"We saw some great results at the 2017 Commonwealth and Oceania Weightlifting Championships which were held in the Gold Coast as a test event in September and we're hugely excited about the potential of these athletes named to the New Zealand team."

New Zealand has won 39 weightlifting medals at the Commonwealth Games.

They will seek further success when Gold Coast 2018 is due to take place from April 4 to 15.