Biological Male Weightlifter Named 'Sportswoman of the Year'
Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard crowned by top New Zealand university
A biological male transgender weightlifter has been crowned "Sportswoman of the Year" in New Zealand.
Laural Hubbard, who competed as a female in this year's Tokyo Olympics by "identifying" as a woman, was awarded the coveted title by the University of Otago this week.
Hubbard received the title from the Dunedin-based university on the South Island of New Zealand at the Blues awards on Tuesday.
Hubbard is the first transgender winner of the prestigious award in its 113-year history celebrating sporting greatness.
Hubbard, 43, became the first openly transgender "woman" to compete in a solo event at the Olympics qualifying for the women's 87+ kg weightlifting at the 2020 Olympics earlier this year.
The Queenstown athlete was eliminated from the event after failing to make a successful lift in the snatch.
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."
Hubbard, who transitioned in 2012, qualified for the Olympic Games after the International Olympic Committee changed its rules to allow transgenders to compete as "women" if their testosterone levels are below a certain threshold.
The weightlifter 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.
Hubbard, whose father is former Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, competed for New Zealand as a 20-year-old junior male athlete with little success before transitioning nine years ago.
Hubbard admitted to taking up weightlifting as a boy to appear more masculine before the pressure of living as a man became "too much."
The then-struggling athlete took a 16-year hiatus from the sport, stunning the world in 2017 by returning as a middle-aged "woman."
Hubbard went on to destroy the female competition, winning two World Championship silver medals in the 90kg class in California in 2017.
"I'm not here to change the world," Hubbard said after the "victory."
"I just want to be me and do what I do."