Toni Lane and Louise Webb are close friends, brought together by a shared passion and a strong sense of ambition. But they’re also both incredibly modest. So when you meet Toni and Louise for the first time, it might take you a while to realise you’re looking at a pair of world champion weightlifters.
These two masters champions have known each other since 2012, and have been weightlifting together since 2015. Toni started weightlifting to improve her CrossFit game, while Lou just wanted to stay generally strong and active. “Then Lou worked out that she was quite competitive for her age and weight class by Victorian standards,” Toni tells The Weightlifting Platform.
Neither of them had competed at an international comp before The Masters World Championships in New Zealand in 2017. So they didn’t quite know what to expect. But how hard could it be, right? “We thought we knew everything about weightlifting,” Toni says.
As it turns out, they didn’t. And because they hadn’t brought a coach with them, they had to figure out all the details, rules, tips and tricks of competing on the world stage by themselves. Despite this obstacle, both Toni and Lou walked out on top, taking home their first gold medals at a World Champs.
The women are certain that it wouldn’t have been possible without the mateship and support of Victoria’s masters weightlifting community.
“Training together with the group that we’ve got makes it so much easier. Toni, myself, Monika [Enders] and Ben [Silva] all supported each other, we go through the same sort of shit and we are around people that all understand what we are going through,” says Lou. “Training with Lester and the entire TG master crew is amazing and we are both very happy with our team around us,” says Toni.
Neither of them are thinking about slowing down anytime soon. They’re already looking at next year’s World Champs in Germany, and then the big goal of the World Masters Games in Japan in 2021, which only comes around every four years.
So, where to next for Toni and Lou?
This year is shaping up to be Toni’s biggest yet. She’s going up an age division and will be “the ‘baby’ in the new age bracket”. She knows this is a great opportunity to stand atop the podium once again at World Champs in Montreal this August.
Toni has already won best overall lifter for her age in two national and international competitions this year, with her best performance to date at the recent Commonwealth Championships on the Gold Coast. This stands her in good stead for a big battle for the podium in the upcoming World Champs in Montreal.
Toni and her coach, Lester, owner of TG Strength, will be ready and up for that fight. But as a mother of four, owner of a gym, and a high-level weightlifter, Toni can’t do it alone. She has great support at home from her husband, who not only cooks most of the meals but weighs everything out so Toni can stay on track with her nutrition.
Lou is also up for a tough fight, and being one of the oldest in her age bracket, she’s got her work cut out for her. Being ranked third going into Worlds, she has a great chance to make a play for the gold. But she’ll have to outlift a very strong women in front of her — Rita Schott from the USA.
The hurdles ahead aren’t just physical. Lou got sick right before her last big competition on the Gold Coast. It meant she didn’t perform to the level she had hoped. And this could definitely shake this champ’s confidence if she lets it. Recovering from the flu now, Lou is back into training and working hard towards making that top spot again.
Lou is a mother of five, and owns a vineyard, which is also where she lives with her family. While trying to juggle all these different commitments, Lou keeps herself grounded with a straightforward and modest personal philosophy. She explains that “masters weightlifting is a very small court and if you take yourself too seriously because you’re world champion or have world records, you need to re-examine your thoughts about yourself.”
You don’t have to spend a lot of time with Toni and Lou to see how determined both athletes are. If they want something, they go for it. Over the past four years, the pair have claimed a swag of medals at the state (both open and masters), national and international levels. They’ve been selected for the Australian team time and time again. And we here at The Weightlifting Platform would love to see them bring home the gold for Australia once again.
We will have more details up soon about the Masters World Champs in Montreal; stay tuned.