TOKYO (Reuters) - Five weightlifters to watch out for at the Tokyo Olympics:
LAUREL HUBBARD (NEW ZEALAND)
Hubbard is set to become the first transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics. She is ranked No. 7 by the International Weightlifting Federation for Tokyo 2020 and has qualified for the women's over-87kg category.
Hubbard, who competed in men’s weightlifting competitions before transitioning in 2013, became eligible to compete in the Olympics after 2015 when the IOC changed its guidelines about the inclusion of transgender athletes.
LASHA TALAKHADZE (GEORGIA)
Talakhadze won a gold at the 2016 Rio Games, completing a snatch of 215kg and a clean and jack of 258kg in the men’s heaviest bodyweight category with a world record total of 473kg.
Talakhadze dominates the men’s super-heavyweight class and is a three time IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) Male Lifter of the Year and has set several world records in his career.
SHI ZHIYONG (CHINA)
Shi, who won the men’s 69kg gold medal at Rio, holds the world record in men’s 73kg class in the snatch, clean and jerk and total. He broke the snatch world record at the Asian Weightlifting Championships in April and set the other two records in 2019.
He will be leading China’s weightlifting squad at the Tokyo Games with another Olympic champion Lyu Xiaojun.
LIDIA VALENTIN PEREZ (SPAIN)
Perez will be competing at her fourth Olympics after winning silver, gold, and bronze from the last three Games. She has spent most of her two-decade career in the 75kg.
In Tokyo, she will be competing in the 87kg category for the first time as she qualified for the Games without lifting the weights.
HIDILYN DIAZ (PHILIPPINES)
At Rio, Diaz became the nation’s first woman to win an Olympic medal by grabbing silver in the 53kg category. The Tokyo Games will be her fourth and she could become the Philippines’s first gold medallist.
Diaz, who made a public plea for financial support to continue her career in 2019, won a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in December of that year. She also won three gold medals at the Weightlifting World Cup event in Rome last year.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)