Controversial transgender weightlifter, Laurel Hubbard has been named sportswoman of the year by the University of Otago in New Zealand.
She was awarded this title by the university based in Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand at the Blues awards on Tuesday. She is the first transgender winner of the award in its 113 year history celebrating sporting greatness.
Ms Hubbard, 43, became the first openly transgender woman to compete in a solo event at the Olympics when she qualified for the women’s 87+ kg weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympic Games earlier this year.
Ms Hubbard said she was ‘grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University’ in a statement to the Otago Daily Times.
‘It is not possible for athletes to complete 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.’
Ms Hubbard, who transitioned in 2012, qualified for the Olympic Games after the International Olympic Committee changed their rules to allow women to compete if their testosterone levels are below a certain threshold.
She released a statement after qualifying for the Games through the IOC thanking them for their inclusivity.
‘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.