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Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard named sportswoman of the year by New Zealand university


Controversial transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is named sportswoman of the year in New Zealand

  • Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard named sportswoman of the year 2021
  • Awarded title by University of Otago, New Zealand earlier this week on Tuesday
  • Follows here appearance as first transgender woman to compete at Olympics 
  • Qualified for the 87+ kg women’s weightlifting but failed to make successful lift 
  • She thanked the IOC for their commitment to make sports inclusive  


New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has been named sportswoman of the year by the University of Otago. 

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. 

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard (pictured) has been named sportwoman of the year by New Zealand’s University of Otago

She is believed to be the first transgender person to win the award in its 133-year history

She is believed to be the first transgender person to win the award in its 133-year history 

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. 

The Queenstown athlete failed to make a successful lift in the snatch and was eliminated from the event. 

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 competed at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year in the 87+ kg womens' weightlifting

Ms Hubbard competed at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year in the 87+ kg womens’ weightlifting 

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.

Ms Hubbard, the daughter of former Auckland mayor Dick Hubbard, competed for New Zealand as a 20-year-old junior male athlete before she transitioned nine years ago.

She qualified for the Olympics after the IOC changed their rules to allow transgender women to compete if their testosterone levels were below a certain threshold

She qualified for the Olympics after the IOC changed their rules to allow transgender women to compete if their testosterone levels were below a certain threshold 

While the Queenstown athletes failed to win a medal, she thanked the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive

While the Queenstown athletes failed to win a medal, she thanked the IOC for its commitment to making sport inclusive 

She said she had taken up weightlifting as a boy to appear more masculine before the pressure of living as a man became too much for her.

She took a 16-year hiatus from the sport, stunning the world in 2017 when she returned, winning two World Championship silver medals in the 90kg class in California in 2017.

‘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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