Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard picks up sportswoman of the year award

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has picked up the New Zealand sportswoman of the year award after being awarded the prize by the University of Otago earlier this week.

Hubbard made history in securing prize, after becoming the first transgender athlete to win the award in its 113-year history.

This isn’t the first time the 43-year-old has written herself in the sporting history books this year, as the Auckland athlete became the first openly transgender competitor at the Olympic Games following her appearance in Tokyo this summer.

Despite making Olympic history Hubbard failed to record a single successful lift at the Games, after two failed attempts at 125 kg and one at 120 kg, ending her Olympic journey early on.

Following a remarkable journey the 43-year-old thanked the staff and students at the University of Otago for all their well wishes and support.

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.’’

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Hubbard made history after qualifying for this year’s Games following the International Olympic Committee’s rule change, which allowed women to compete in Tokyo if their testosterone levels were below a certain level.

The 43-year-old had competed in the sport previously for her nation as a 20-year-old male athlete, before completing her gender transition in 2012.

Following her historic Olympic qualification Hubbard released a statement thanking the International Olympic Committee for allowing her to compete.

She commented: “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.”

Hubbard took a 16-year break from competing professionally in the sport but rose to fame in 2017, as she marked her return to the sport by collecting a silver medal in the 90kg class at the 2017 World Championships in California.

Following her remarkable return, the Aucklander said: “I'm not here to change the world,' she said after the victory. 'I just want to be me and do what I do.”

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