Canberra United co-captain Michelle Heyman has been nominated for Sports Personality of the Year at the first Australian LGBTI Awards.

The footballer was the only openly gay athlete to represent Australia at the Rio Olympics.

“Being nominated for this award is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me,” she said. “Winning would mean so much to me.

“The reason why I am out is to just be that role model for younger children, to say it’s okay to be who you are.

“If you want to continue with your passion and dreams, then you must always follow them and don’t let bullying of anything like that stop who you are or what you want to achieve in life.”

Heyman was shocked to hear about 13-year-old Tyrone Unsworth’s suicide last year. She has pledged to do everything she can to help kids “stop being scared of who they are”.

She has many young fans and spends time after each game signing autographs and posing for selfies.

“I feel like I’ve got a good story to tell and the more people I can share my voice with, I think the better that will be for our community,” said Heyman.

The Australian LGBTI Awards will take place at the Sydney Opera House on March 2.

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