The University of Otago has named transgender weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard, New Zealands ‘sportswoman of the year’.
Hubbard has become the first transgender athlete to win the award in its 113-year history.
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The 43-year-old also became the first openly transgender competitor at the Olympic Games following her appearance in Tokyo this summer.
The Mirror reports: Hubbard was keen to thank those who had supported her journey when she was handed her recent award.
She told the Otago Daily Times : “It is not possible for athletes to compete at the Olympic level without the encouragement and aroha of friends, family and supporters. This award belongs to everyone who has been part of my Olympic journey.”
University Students’ Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey described Hubbard as a “worthy” winner of the award, adding: “We could think of no-one more worthy of sportswoman of the year than Laurel Hubbard who represented Otago and New Zealand incredibly well at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.’’
Hubbard, the daughter of former Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard, competed for New Zealand as a 20-year-old junior male athlete.
She transitioned in 2012 and qualified for the Olympic Games after the International Olympic Committee changed their rules to allow women to compete if their testosterone levels were below a certain threshold.
“I see the Olympic Games as a global celebration of our hopes, ideals and values and I would like to thank the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive and accessible,” she said.
Hubbard said she took up weightlifting as a boy to seem more masculine before struggling with the demands of living as a man.