Lisa Tobias Commonwealth Games bound after swapping vaults for weights
As a gymnast, Lisa Tobias was used to supporting her own body weight but now she is lifting up to three times that and has earned a place on Team Scotland weightlifting team as a result.
One of the four weightlifters named in the squad for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, the mother of two only switched her attention to the sport after witnessing others shine in Glasgow four years ago.
“I was doing powerlifting when I was watching the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014, and that is when I started wondering if I could make the switch and if weightlifting could be my route to get to the Commonwealth Games.
“I was watching my weight class, 48kg weight class, just totally mesmerised about what these girls were able to lift. And that is when I asked my coach if he thought I would be able to make the switch to qualify for the Commonwealth Games. He was completely behind me the whole way. He believed I can do it.
“It is quite a journey in a short space of time.”
But the core strength and dedication needed to complete the odyssey and get on the plane to Australia was already there thanks to her past as a committed gymnast.
“I was a gymnast right through from when I was nine years old, all the way through to about 20-ish, when I started my own business, which kind of meant that I had to give it up.”
Those business endeavours have kept her busy, along with raising five-year-old Jared and seven-year-old Naomi, but, having built a solid base, she now is looking for the perfect topping.
“I have 14 Dominos pizza franchises right across Glasgow, Ayrshire and Northern Ireland. Dominos UK have got a franchise from the company in the States, and then I franchise from them. It keeps me very busy. My husband and I do it together, but he has taken over more of the running of it to let me focus on training and everything. We put a structure in place where I don’t need to be there everyday, making pizzas and everything.”
That freed up the days for the 37-year-old from Newton Mearns to concentrate on realising her Commonwealth dream. It wasn’t the route the gymnastics enthusiast had envisaged, but, if life forced a detour, she is now back on track.
“I started as a part-time pizza maker when I was at school and planned to go to university to do PE teaching, but I didn’t enjoy that, so I gave it up and turned my part-time job into a full-time career.
“Then, after I had my two children, I decided I wanted to get back into gymnastics. I spoke to a personal trainer to get me fit again for gymnastics and he discovered that, for my size, I was really strong.
“So we went down the route of lifting weights and I started entering powerlifting competitions and, after six months of training, I won the Scottish Championships, the British Championships, the Europeans, and the World Championships within a year of starting powerlifting.
“But my ultimate goal right back when I was really young was to compete at a Commonwealth Games, which was something that powerlifting wasn’t part of. So I made the switch three years ago to weightlifting.”
Tobias’ ascent has been impressive. Winner of the 2016 and 2017 Scottish Championships, she also took bronze at the British Championships in those years.
In Australia, it will be tough to reach such heights, with Tobias acknowledging the threat posed by the likes of India, who she says are “miles ahead” of everyone else. “At the Commonwealth Championships in September I finished fifth and not every nation that is competing at the Games was there, so I just mean to go out there and do the best I can.”