Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, who recently said she may retire, has been named New Zealand’s Sportswoman of the Year by the University of Otago.
The 43-year-old was awarded the title after working ‘incredibly hard’ at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year.
The University Students’ Association president, Michaela Waite-Harvey, said: “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 has also commented on the award and said that she is thankful for the ‘encouragement’ of her family, friends, and fans.
She told 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.”
In 2012, the 43-year-old began her transition from male to female.
Later on, Hubbard learned that she could qualify for the Olympics after the committee changed its rulings, which meant that women under a certain testosterone level could compete.
But during the Games, the weightlifter was knocked out of the competition when she failed to make a snatch.
Following the loss, Hubbard made a speech in which she thanked the Olympic Games for allowing her ‘hopes, ideals and values’ to be represented.
She said: “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.”
The sportswoman then admitted that her age may have been a reason she didn’t perform as well as expected.
At the event, she reportedly commented: “Age has caught up with me. In fact, if we’re being honest, it probably caught up with me some time ago.
“My involvement in sport is probably due, if nothing else, to heroic amounts of anti-inflammatories, and it’s probably time for me to start thinking about hanging up the boots and concentrating on other things in my life.
“I’m not sure that a role model is something I could ever aspire to be, instead I hope that just by being I can provide some sense of encouragement.”
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