Canadian born Moira Lassen is the daughter of Glaswegian parents who immigrated in 1957.
She became interested in weightlifting when her daughter Jeanne became interested in the sport. Living in Yukon, in the far north of Canada, proved limiting to Jeanne's chosen sport so Moira devoted herself to a mountain of grant applications, policy and bylaw work, coaching as well as technical aspects of weightlifting. Moira left no weightlifting stone unturned. Jeanne Lassen went on to become an Olympian and multiple world medallist. In this exclusive interview Competition Manager Moira talks of her role, her love of Glasgow and women in sport.
What does your role as Weightlifting Competition Manager involve?
The competition manager is responsible to ensure that all rules and regulations of the sport are adhered to and provide an environment for the athletes, team officials and technical officials to perform to the best of their ability. Having been in these roles myself, save the athlete, enables me to see and feel the environment is suitably prepared; being an empathetic leader within sport in a beneficial skill.
What do you think Glasgow has to offer in terms as host city?
The city of Glasgow has amazing architecture, green space and history for Games visitors to enjoy when they are here. I believe the most the city has to offer is that of its genuine kindness and true heart of citizens. The people in this city warm my heart on a daily basis, they assist and support one another, they engage in discussion and laugh with one another and there is a sense of open camaraderie and pride here unparalleled to anywhere else in the world. The moment I arrived here I felt it and I still feel it on a daily basis.
There are more females coming into weightlifting now. Why do you think this is?
I think this is occurring for a few reasons such as social media and legacy of major multisport games but I think the main reason is that a strong, physically fit woman has become normalised in society. It is also an awareness within women themselves that muscles keep them fit, healthy and independent. Corporate America realises that there is a huge market out there that they can tap into because these same women want to look good while becoming healthy and fit and in turn also become stronger and independent in all aspects of their life. They become more ambitious, more competitive and have more presence in society.
Do you believe enough is being enough is being done to encourage females into weightlifting and sports in general?
We are off to a good start but way more needs to be done. We have the success stories but they are one offs. We need to get more women involved not only as athletes but as leaders; we need more coaches, technical officials and decision makers. We need to keep that young girl who is going through puberty to stay with the sport and having female coaches there for her, to lament with her, will increase her chances to stick with it. I believe the females athletes who recently retired or will be within five years or so will be weightlifting's driving force for the mass advancement of women in these leadership positions. Within sport we also have to realise that women have on and off ramps within their life; during their child bearing / rearing years and potential elder adult care so we see women come in and out of sport. We have to be more open to this and support their continued involvement. For example provide complimentary day care twice a week, enable work at home solutions, and spare Games Accreditation for under two years of age. Of Course, the easiest way to encourage more women into weightlifting and sport generally, is ask them to come out and give it a try and let them bring a friend. Seriously, it can be that simple.
Do stigmas still exist that may deter some females?
Sadly yes there are and there are two factors, the internal and the external. Internally women may feel they are not strong enough or coordinated enough or that bits and pieces will move and bounce around that they didn't want to and so what would they do if someone laughed at them or what if the other women giggled and stared at them. The stigma is actually a lack of confidence.
The external factor would be the physical environment. The gym culture may be seen as having lots of unsophisticated, hairy sweaty men in a dank smelly basement gym. This vision may be unappealing to some women and may cause other women to feel physically unsafe.
What are your feelings on Glasgow 2014 and how do you think it will compare to other Games?
Glasgow 2014 is going to be a great time; I'm totally pumped for it. The Clyde Auditorium is an iconic venue and we have lots of good rock 'n' roll tunes lined up to play. The venue lends itself to a stage performance and the athletes will feel the energy of the music and the live audience and perform the show of a lifetime. The sport is dynamic and explosive. We have some real head to head competitions going on in the Women's 58kg and 75kg as well as the Men's 94kg and the +105kg. We will witness some Commonwealth Games records being smashed. It's going to be awesome!