Sarah Davies is Great Britain's best ever female weightlifter on a pound for pound basis, lifting between 100-125kg (or 220-275 lbs) depending on the event, snatch or clean and jerk. She's also an international beauty pageant queen. Sarah’s journey is about defying convention, whether it’s in beauty pageantry or weightlifting: she goes for what she wants, and takes action for what she believes is right, even when she has to go against the grain. Across the worlds of sport and pageantry, Sarah is breaking unspoken rules of convention. In this episode, we talk about what it’s like being a female olympic weightlifter AND beauty pageant queen while taking on corrupt leadership inside the international Weightlifting Federation, the governing body for international weightlifting. We start with how she got into weightlifting, discuss how her love for weightlifting and pageantry connect, and then dive into her efforts to clean up the IWF as chair of the athlete’s commission. Contributing experts include Stephanie Best (Sarah's best friend), Holly Pirrie (Sarah's Former Pageant Director, Pageant Girl), Phil Andrews (CEO, USA Weightlifting), Dick Pound (Senior Active Member, International Olympic Committee), and Spencer Harris (Associate Professor of Sport Management, College of Business, University of Colorado in Colorado Springs).
Episode Title: Sarah Davies (Great Britain): The Barbell Queen Defying Convention
The Flame Bearers podcast brings the latest behind the scenes conversations. Today, British weight lifter Sarah Davies shares about the unique combination of accomplishments in both beauty and brawn. Breaking the unspoken rules of convention, defying stereotypes, and exposing corruption from within the weightlifting federation, Sarah is changing the industry. Listen in to hear what it is like to be both a pageant queen and weightlifting champion. Beginning with how she got into weightlifting, Jamie and Sarah discuss how weightlifting and pageantry connect, and they dive into Sarah’s efforts to clean up the IWF as the Chair of the Athlete's Commission. What got her pumping iron in the first place? Sarah loves to push herself and see what she can achieve. With a sport that’s easy to measure, Sarah is exhilarated by the progress she’s seen. Women supporting women is an increasingly common reality and Sarah speaks to the further importance of overall team dynamics. Curious about stereotypes she faces as a woman, Jamie looks into the current shift in culture as to what defines “sexy”. Sarah wears both medals and sparkling crowns, she says it’s about the holistic role model you become—the key to her success has been confidence.
Shifting to the IWF, Sarah has shaken things up after decades of massive corruption. Leadership does not feel the need to change until intense pressures make them. Learn how Sarah is pushing to make change happen from within this organization. Pretty outspoken in calling people out, Sarah chats about the gender inequalities in leadership that pose an additional challenge for her. How has the executive board treated her and what attitude do they have? She shares about the dope issue, the allegations to be addressed, and the need for better controls. Sarah does not want nations excluded from the sport, it she wants them to compete in the right manner. Jamie gets more scoop on the international scandal from Dick Pound, a lawyer in Montreal, Canada and Former Chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency. Dick talks about how steroids are in the DNA of weightlifting now, and how it is hard to get them out when corrupt officials are offering bribes to keep quiet. Sarah has recorded, created, and posted a video to speak out against this issue— thereby becoming the very face of the whole movement. Mr. Pound had seen a lot of change and talks about the traction Sarah is gaining. People are the identity of those who lead them. In turning over lots of rocks and exposing people that most people would not dare reveal, the board treatment towards Sarah has changed. Global expert in sports management, Spencer Harris, speaks to athletic governance. They are working to preserve the sport correctly, but external oversight is needed to keep this standard. Conflict of interests will arise when everything is handled from within. Find out that to create disruption, one must get the fans, sponsors, and broadcasters. This is what forces change in the system! Athletes alone don’t have the power to bring change. Sarah is working to help lead this sport in integrity and make history—the hope of seeing a podium with integrity. As the episode wraps up, Sarah offers a bit of advice. Do what you want to do for your- self, and do it with full conviction—don’t live with regrets. All of us have our own loads to carry, make yours what you want it to be!
Learn more about Sarah Davies
Learn more about the IWF
Check out more about Richard (“Dick”) Pound
Learn more about Spencer Harris
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