• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Weightlifting: Mather takes the fast track to Glasgow

TO say Louise Mather's rise through the weightlifting ranks has been swift would be something of an understatement.

Louise Mather is used to being on stage with a band, but she's not sure how she will handle the attention at the Games         Photograph: Kirsty Anderson
Louise Mather is used to being on stage with a band, but she's not sure how she will handle the attention at the Games Photograph: Kirsty Anderson

It is a seed which only first took root while watching from the stands as a spectator at the 2012 Olympic Games. An inspired Mather purchased a "old rusty bar" from the internet and began to practice in her basement, honing her technique by watching YouTube clips.

Now, less than two years later, Mather, 30, is among the four-strong Team Scotland weightlifting squad named last week to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. "It's a pretty fast transition but it doesn't feel that way," she says. "I feel like I've spent the last 10 years of my life in the gym."

Having previously played football at university before more recently dabbling in powerlifting and CrossFit, Glasgow-based Mather knew immediately she had found her sporting vocation.

"I went to the Olympics, taking my sister for her birthday," she says. "We went to see what would be my category - the women's 69kg - and I got really excited. I loved it and at the end said: 'I think I should have a bash at that sport'."

So that is what she did. After a brief period mucking around with that rusty bar - a snip at £8 - Mather was introduced to coach Ray Cavanagh through a friend. From the outset, Cavanagh - a former Commonwealth Games competitor - was impressed with her abilities.

"He said: 'Yeah, I think we've got something to work with here so could you never leave'?" she smiles. "Then the qualification standards for the Commonwealths came out and he thought these were possible targets for me if I trained really hard and didn't get distracted. So that's what I did."

Mather tells the story with nonchalance, but beneath the surface lies the determination of an athlete who has resolutely worked her socks off for the best part of 18 months to gain the required qualification standard. She recalls the often harsh realities of that steep learning curve.

"There's a lot of frustration because you know the movements and what it feels like when it's right," she says. "I compare it to a golf swing when you hit that ball just right and it makes the right sound; it's the exact same with weightlifting. When you get the right line it feels amazing so you chase that.

"If you can't find it that day - whether it's because you're fatigued or something's just out of alignment - that's when it's frustrating. I always lift better when I'm happy and having a good time so I always try to go into the gym with that sort of attitude. If I hit the weights then great, if not I'll just come back in the next day and try it again."

Her personal best for the snatch stands at 78kg alongside 97kg for the clean and jerk, giving her a combined total of 175kg. "That is 11kg over the qualifying standard. I actually made the next standard above so it means if I struggle - because I really like my food - I will still be fine," she jokes.

Mather, who joins Georgi Black, Sophie Smyth and Peter Kirkbride in the Scottish side, grins broadly when the notion of "girl power" is mentioned given that 75% of the weightlifting team are women. "It's exciting isn't it?" she says. "There's a great camaraderie between us all and it helps to have that support."

She juggles training around her day job as a freelance videographer and photographer, admitting the main sacrifice in pursuing her sporting goals has been temporarily shelving a passion for music.

"I've been in an electro rock band called Any Color Black for the past eight years," she says. "I'm the singer and I play guitar. We started off as a four-piece then ended up as a two piece because we're difficult to get on with - no really, we are. We've done relatively well but with all the training I need to do for the Commonwealth Games we've suspended it. And my band-mate has another beautiful baby boy now so that also has an impact.

"We're actually really good. We were offered a big gig on a boat for the Sound to Sea festival but I had to say no because I tend to get whiplash after a performance - if you watch the videos on YouTube you'll understand why. So I couldn't go into one of the biggest weightlifting contests of my life needing a rub down before I start."

Mather isn't convinced her past onstage experience has adequately prepared her for the prospect of an adoring public at the Games.

"People say I shouldn't be fazed by the crowd in Glasgow because I've played in front of 20,000 people in Germany but this is really different," she says. "I'm in Spandex making pain faces [rather than] caked in eyeliner with my hair over my face, running back and forward across a stage."

Not for her either the heady excesses of a stereotypical touring musician. "It's funny because we're the geekiest band you'd ever meet," she says. "We were always like: 'Yeah, let's drink Jack Daniels' and then secretly go to bed. So we always tried to portray a bit of the rock'n'roll lifestyle - and there were occasions obviously - but we were very careful about it.

"One of the reasons I got into weightlifting is that I'm a perfectionist and it was the same with the band. If we went on stage and I knew that we hadn't really had the right preparation I was uncomfortable. It's the exact same on the platform: I have to feel like I've done everything possible to give my best performance."

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

237295