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Jenny Tong: Elevating BWL on the European Stage

Jenny Tong's appointment to the European Weightlifting Federation (EWF) Athlete Commission is a pivotal moment for British Weight Lifting (BWL), affirming its global presence and respect. With her extensive background as the Non-Executive Director and Interim Chair of the Athletes Committee of BWL, Jenny brings a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to athlete welfare and development to the commission. Her vision for a collaborative and athlete-focused approach within the BWL community is set to extend to a European level.

Jenny Tong: Elevating BWL on the European Stage

As the EWF Congress in Sofia nears, Jenny shares her journey and insights in an exclusive interview. She reflects on her challenges and achievements, including overcoming injuries to become the British Champion, and her advocacy for athletes' welfare.

Career and Achievements

 British Weight Lifting: Congratulations on your appointment as the Interim Chair of the BWL Athletes Committee and to the EWF Athlete Commission. Can you share what these roles entail and your vision for them?

Jenny Tong: Thank you so much! Across both positions, my role involves representing the interests and concerns of weightlifters within our community. I aim to facilitate open communication between athletes and the governing body, ensuring that athletes' voices are heard in decision-making processes. My vision is to create a more collaborative and athlete-centred environment, where the needs and perspectives of weightlifters are prioritised to enhance the overall experience and development of the sport.

BWL: Reflecting on your journey to becoming the British Champion in 2022, what were some key moments or challenges that shaped your career?

JT: Becoming the British Champion was a culmination of years of hard work and dedication. A significant challenge that has marred and hindered my career is a predisposition to [injuries]. I was managing a significant injury at the time, which taught me resilience and the importance of proper recovery. injuries. Understanding my own body and how it best responds to training is something I learnt sooner in order to get the most out of myself. Overcoming these obstacles fuelled my determination to not only succeed personally but also to advocate for a more welfare and lifestyle support for our athletes.

Advocacy and Inclusivity

BWL: You've been a strong advocate for athletes' voices across all levels. How do you plan to continue this advocacy in your new role as Interim Chair of the BWL Athletes Committee?

JT: In my new role, I plan to actively engage with athletes at all levels, from grassroots to elite, to understand their concerns, aspirations and vision for BWL. By fostering an open dialogue, I aim to advocate for policies that prioritise the well-being and development of athletes. Additionally, I will work with the BWL team towards creating mentorship programmes and support networks to ensure that all athletes feel heard and supported in their weightlifting journey.

BWL: In your view, what are some effective strategies to promote inclusivity and diversity in sports, beyond just addressing racial disparities?

JT: True inclusivity goes beyond addressing one aspect. It involves creating an environment where athletes of all backgrounds, genders, and abilities feel welcomed and valued. To achieve this recruitment programmes in disadvantaged or underrepresented areas. mentorship programmes, educational initiatives, and resources that cater to the diverse needs of athletes, such as student-athlete advisory support would be beneficial. Breaking down gender stereotypes and promoting accessibility to the sport for individuals with disabilities are crucial steps in fostering a truly inclusive weightlifting community.

Personal Philosophy and Inspiration

BWL: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in your weightlifting journey and your advocacy work?

JT: My biggest inspiration has been witnessing the collective strength, resilience and passion of the weightlifting community. Witnessing athletes overcome personal and systemic challenges to achieve their goals motivates me to continue pushing for positive change and support for athletes needs. Additionally, I draw inspiration from individuals who paved the way for diversity and inclusion in sports, challenging norms and stereotypes.?

BWL: What advice would you give to young athletes, especially those facing their own unique challenges, to stay motivated and focused?

JT: “I am the captain of my fate. I am the master of my soul” – William Earnest Henley

I would advise young athletes to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. To feel the fear and do it anyway. Surround yourself with a supportive network and community, set realistic goals, and prioritise your well-being above all else. Remember that setbacks are a natural part of any journey, and resilience in the face of adversity is a key component of success.

Future Goals and Aspirations

BWL: Looking forward, what are some key initiatives or changes you hope to introduce or see in BWL?

JT: I aim to introduce initiatives that focus on athlete development, mindset and mental health support, and mentorship programmes. Additionally, I want to continue working towards creating a more transparent and inclusive decision-making process within BWL. Collaboration with athletes and stakeholders will be key in shaping policies that truly benefit the weightlifting community.

BWL: How do you balance your own training and competitive goals with your role as a leader and advocate in the sport?

JT: Balancing my roles is challenging but rewarding. Effective time management and prioritisation are crucial. I believe that my experiences as an athlete directly contribute to my effectiveness as a leader. By staying connected to the sport through training and broader weightlifting community, I can better understand and address the needs of athletes.

Challenges and Overcoming Stereotypes

BWL: You've mentioned facing challenges and stereotypes in your career. How do you navigate these obstacles, and what advice would you give to others in similar situations?

JT: Navigating challenges involves maintaining self-belief and focusing on personal growth. I've found strength in embracing my unique journey and using it to challenge stereotypes. My advice to others is to stay true to yourself, surround yourself with a supportive community, and use challenges as opportunities to showcase your abilities and break down barriers.

Personal Reflections

BWL: How do you see your role evolving in the future, and what personal goals do you have outside of your current position?

JT: In the future, I see my role evolving to encompass broader initiatives that promote the overall well-being of athletes. Personally, I aspire to continue contributing to the growth of weightlifting and sports advocacy on an international level. Beyond my current position, I am passionate about creating educational programmes that empower athletes and promote a positive sporting culture.

BWL: Finally, what would you like people to understand about Jenny Tong that goes beyond your achievements in weightlifting and your advocacy work?

JT: I want people to see me as someone who is not defined solely by achievements but as an individual committed to making a positive and lasting impact on the sport. Beyond the platform of weightlifting, I am dedicated to the growth of BWL, fostering positive change, promoting inclusivity, and inspiring the next generation of athletes to dream big and challenge the status quo.

 

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