Laurel Hubbard, the transgender weightlifter from New Zealand, has been effectively guaranteed a place at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after the approval of an amended qualifying system by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Under the new rules, which were needed because so many competitions were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hubbard is sure of a place at Tokyo - making her the first openly transgender athlete to qualify to compete at the Olympic Games.
It confirms a remarkable comeback by Hubbard, who at 43 will be the oldest weightlifter at Tokyo 2020.
Only three years ago she feared her career was over because of a serious elbow injury sustained at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
Hubbard’s best total in qualifying is 285 kilograms, which puts her very much in the reckoning for a place on the podium in the women’s super-heavyweights in Tokyo.
Only three athletes will have a higher qualifying total when the entries are named.
Hubbard sits 16th in the rankings but at least six of those currently above her will be absent.
Four are from China and two are from Korea, but nations can enter only one athlete per category.
Kim Kuk Hyang will not be there because North Korea is staying at home, and Russia’s Tatiana Kashirina is suspended.
The deadline for entries is July 5.
On the current rankings Feagaiga Stowers of Samoa will take a place in the top eight and that means Hubbard will qualify as the best athlete from Oceania outside the top eight.
She would probably have qualified for Tokyo without the adoption of new qualification rules but the amendments, revealed in a letter from the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to its members after IOC approval, work in her favour.
If Stowers had dropped out of the top eight but remained ahead of Hubbard, which could have happened if the IWF opted for a different qualifying formula, the New Zealander would not have qualified.
Hubbard lived as a male for 35 years, and never made it into international weightlifting.
After transitioning in 2012 she moved to a new level, finishing second at the 2017 IWF World Championships and winning continental titles and other elite competitions.
Hubbard was sixth at the last IWF World Championships in 2019, having recovered from injury - and three of those who finished ahead of her will not be competing in Tokyo.
Hubbard’s presence in women’s weightlifting has caused much controversy, as has the topic of transgender athletes generally in recent years.
In an interview in 2017, after her World Championships silver medal, Hubbard said: "The rules that enabled me to compete first went into effect in 2003.
"They are known as the Stockholm consensus with the IOC but I think even 10 years ago the world perhaps wasn't ready for an athlete like myself - and perhaps it is not ready now.
"But I got the sense at least that people were willing to consider me for these competitions and it seemed like the right time to put the boots on and hit the platform."
She was generally well received by the crowd at Gold Coast 2018.
The original qualification system was broken down into three six-month phases, and athletes had to participate in six events, thereby making themselves constantly available for anti-doping tests.
One result from each of the three phases, plus the best remaining result from any time during qualifying, were to have counted in the rankings.
But because of disruption caused by the pandemic, athletes now need count only one event from phase one, which started way back in late 2018, one from phase two, and any two other performances from any time since qualifying started.
Some athletes have avoided testing for about 18 months because there have been no competitions for them to enter.
An alternative system, whereby testing would have been stricter, and a "virtual" result would have been calculated from previous performances, was suggested in March by three people who worked on the IWF Sport Programme Commission for Tokyo - Matthew Curtain, Tom Goegebuer and Attila Adamfi.
It was rejected by the IWF Board, which did not come up with its own plan until many weeks later.
By then, the European, Pan American and Asian continental championships had taken place.
Had they known about the new system earlier, many athletes might have opted not to compete in their continental championships, as they did not need any more ranking points.
Mike Irani, the IWF’s Interim President, wrote to member federations to announce that the IOC had approved the new system and said: "A clear explanation on the modifications will follow in the upcoming days."
Among the possible beneficiaries of the new system are two Latin American women, Beatriz Piron of Dominican Republic at 49 kilograms and Maria Fernanda Valdes of Chile.
Both had zero points in phase three of qualifying because of bomb-outs but can now discard those performances.
Three qualifying events remain on the calendar before the process ends on May 31 - the South American and Ibero-American Open in Cali, Colombia, the African Championships in Madagascar, and the IWF Junior World Championships in Uzbekistan.
Full details of the new qualifying system can be found here.