Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is no stranger to breaking new ground in sports, and now she’s done it again after being named sportswoman of the year in her native New Zealand. The 43-year-old was the first openly transgender competitor in an individual event when she completed at the Tokyo Olympics this summer and her remarkable accomplishments as well as her courage deserves to be honored.
- Hubbard’s Olympic debut wasn’t as successful as she would have hoped. She competed in the women’s +87kg weightlifting event but failed to record a successful lift. She struggled with the 120kg snatch and couldn’t manage her two attempts for the 125kg, but even being there was a huge accomplishment.
- The University of Otago awarded Hubbard the Sportswoman of the Year title. It was handed over at the Blues awards on Tuesday, September 28. While the award has been around for 113 years, Hubbard is the first trans woman to win it. Talk about history in the making!
- Hubbard was pleased to be honored in such a wonderful way. In a statement to the Otago Daily Times, Hubbard said she was “grateful for all of the support and kindness received from the teaching staff and students at Otago University.” She added: “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.”
- She has had to face considerable adversity in athletics. Many protested her inclusion on the women’s team at the Olympics because of her trans identity. This despite the fact that she met all of the conditions laid out by the International Olympic Committee. There will likely be many more haters who are against the idea of her winning Sportswoman of the Year, but thankfully, Hubbard seems to be above the criticism. Just as she should be!