Weightlifter Sarah Davies joins the organisation in new role as voice for TASS athletes

“I’m looking forward to giving back to TASS and making a difference, like they did for me”.

TASS is delighted to announce the appointment of GB weightlifter and TASS alumna Sarah Davies, as the first-ever athlete representative.

Davies will draw on personal experience of the support she received from TASS in 2012/13 whilst studying in Leeds, as well as acting as the voice for current student athletes.

As the inaugural Chair of TAAG, the Talented Athlete Advisory Group, she will be responsible for leading the athlete group and reporting back to TASS’ management board.

Davies’ new role will be integral to the scheme to ensure the comments and suggestions of the student athletes are heard, in order to make a positive effect on the athlete experience.

TASS made a massive impact on my weightlifting career. I received support in my second year of the sport, which gave me much more focus and drive to pursue it further.

While weightlifting was a totally new challenge for me when I started at 19, this new role is an opportunity to challenge myself in a different area and I can’t wait to get stuck in”.

Since placing 7th at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, she now has her sporting sights set on the 2018 Commonwealths, with a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics being her ultimate goal.

Davies explained: “Qualifying starts now for Gold Coast 2018, so I have just under a year to achieve the ranking I need. It’s competitive as only one athlete per weight category can qualify, but I’m feeling confident.

I’m also looking ahead to Tokyo as British Weightlifting have me pitched to place in to the top five, or even win a medal. That’s the dream.”

When not training at University of Leeds or White Rose CrossFit, Davies works as a PE supply teacher. Previous to this, she achieved a 2:1 grade in her Secondary PE with Qualified Teacher Status degree at Leeds Beckett University.

It was during her studies in Leeds that she first met her partner and coach, Jack Oliver, who was also supported by TASS during 2009-11. Just three months after her introduction to the sport in 2011, she qualified for the English Championships and went on to win a medal.

Davies isn’t afraid to admit how little she knew about the sport when she started lifting, besides the common stereotype of women weightlifters.

“There is definitely a perception of women who lift weights as being unattractive, but I think this is changing due to the massive effect CrossFit has had. It’s so popular now.

In 2011 standards were much lower, but with role models like Zoe Smith and Emily Godley there’s more women than ever getting involved with the sport.”

Last year she claimed gold in the European U23 Championships in Lithuania in both the snatch and clean & jerk disciplines, achieving first place overall. Davies explained how competitive weightlifting is in the Baltic countries:

“It’s a really big sport there; it was amazing to win and hearing the national anthem played at an international competition was a really special moment.”

But what do Davies’ secondary school students think of their teacher’s success?

“I get lots of likes on Instagram and tweets from young people who follow my career, especially on my older videos from when I had just started lifting. People like seeing how you were ‘normal’ once, like them!

They also ask loads of questions like ‘why are you teaching too?’ so I have to explain that not all athletes get paid thousands like footballers! It’s good for them to see the realistic side of sport.”

Davies’ advice for talented athletes is to train hard but prioritise study alongside their sporting aspirations. TASS will undoubtedly benefit from the weightlifter’s first-hand experience of elite sport, in addition to the practical guidance she can lend to TAAG.

Jack Grundy, TASS Lead for Athlete Support and Education, is driving the TAAG project:

“It is incredibly exciting for Sarah to be joining TASS in this new role as we have not had athlete representation like this before.

TAAG will give TASS the opportunity to gain essential feedback back from the support program, as well as capture the impacts and improvements to be made within the network.

Not only will it help TASS improve and develop the scheme; it has created a chance for TASS athletes to develop key transferable skills for future transitions to come.”