Tokyo Olympics: Historic NZ weightlifting team named in shadow of Laurel Hubbard selection

Out of sight but not out of mind, Laurel Hubbard's controversial inclusion in the NZ Olympic team continues to overshadow the other kiwi weightlifters confirmed for Tokyo.

Her four teammates have fronted up to talk about their selection, but it was once again hard to ignore the trailblazing woman making international headlines, conspicuous by her absence.

They represent the biggest Kiwi weightlifting contingent confirmed for an Olympics and five years of hard work is about to pay off.

"Everybody has got their own stories," says David Liti. "Everybody walks in their own shoes."

Kiwis fell in love with big-smiling Liti, when he won gold at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. He wants to do it again and nothing is taking his focus away from that.

In fact, Liti says he didn't notice the international reaction to Hubbard's selection. 

"I had training yesterday, so I had to focus on that," he says. "There's more important stuff to focus on than talking about being on the team and stuff."

Like Liti, Kanah Andrews-Nehu will be a first-time Olympian at Tokyo, competing in the women's under-87kg division category. 

She's been described as the future of women's weightlifting in New Zealand and she backs Hubbard’s selection. 

"I can't really speak on behalf of the team, especially Laurel, but I'm proud of where they are at and I believe we all deserve to go," says Andrews-Nehu.

And share their journey.

"We have a community of people who follow us and everyone can resonate with someone's story," says Megan Ann Signal. 

"For example, they might not resonate with mine and might resonate with David's, and that's really important to create that inspiration along that way."

An historic weightlifting team will represent New Zealand proudly on the world stage.