Published: 00:01, 28 November 2018
| Updated: 10:22, 28 November 2018
A teacher selected as the first transgender woman to represent any country in angling has made her international debut.
Becky Lee Birtwhistle Hodges has helped place the England Ladies team third in the world at the 2018 World Shore Fishing Championships.
The Marsh Academy food technology teacher was chosen for the national team earlier this year, and recently travelled to Conwy County Borough in North Wales for the competition.
She said: “We arrived a week before to practise at the venues.
“I started the event as a reserve as this was my first international cap. But after the first day, I was put in as a competitor. This was a very proud moment for me.
“The last day was very nerve-wracking as we all knew what was at stake - we had to hold onto third place.”
Her best day individually was day three where she finished first overall.
The former PE teacher has lived in Littlestone for just over a decade.
She grew up loving sports and water activities in St Ives, Cornwall, but only started fishing seriously in the last few years.
The 41-year-old says equality and inclusion rules in sport mean everyone must be considered, but sport governing bodies all have different criteria to assess if there are distinct advantages - something Mrs Birtwhistle Hodges is deemed not to have.
She puts her success largely down to the support she has received from her school, peers and positive experience of coming out: “It has been one of the proudest moments of my life and hopefully more to come.
"Any negativity is simply encouragement to do better.
“I will never let anyone stop me from doing what I love.
“We were all so pleased with the result.
"In the past they had missed out before and been so close to a medal.
"Any negativity is simply encouragement to do better... I will never let anyone stop me from doing what I love" - Becky Lee Birtwhistle Hodges
“To receive a bronze medal at my first tournament was amazing.
"I would love to one day achieve a gold medal as a team and as an individual to be world champion, but first and foremost it’s a team event - the rest is a bonus.”
If selected again, she will next attend the 2020 world championships in Mimizan, France.
The former chef met her wife Carrie Hodges five years ago, and they chose to marry in late 2015.
Mrs Birtwhistle Hodges is also the only woman in the south east to have been selected to represent the country in the self-funded sport, and attends a transgender support group in Dover called TG Pals.
England team manager Mark Hurcombe said: “I am very proud of the ladies’ performance which was brilliant and to get a podium finish with the bronze team medal was outstanding.”
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