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Lassen picked as Olympics alternate

A back injury prevented Whitehorse weightlifter Jeane Lassen from competing at the Canadian Senior Championships this past weekend in La Prairie, Que.

A back injury prevented Whitehorse weightlifter Jeane Lassen from competing at the Canadian Senior Championships this past weekend in La Prairie, Que.

However, previous results from this year were strong enough to land Lassen a spot on Canada’s Olympic Team as an alternate for the Games this summer in London, England.

Lassen was edged out of the third and final spot on the team by Quebec’s Annie Moniqui, who won gold over the weekend in the 58-kilo class.

Determining the Olympic team goes beyond simply who lifted the most and won the most medals at major meets. The Canadian Weightlifting Federation uses a complex formula to figure out which lifters have the greatest chance at success.

“A girl in a lighter weight class beat me in math, basically,” said Lassen. “I don’t know the exact number she did, but she did enough to get on the team.

“She’s been training since she was quite young and she’s a good ambassador for the sport.

“I’m disappointed that I’m not on the team (as a competitor), but I also have my injury to nurse and I will be going as a spectator and supporter,” she added.

The 31-year-old is suffering from a herniated disc and a couple of bulged discs in her spine. The injury didn’t occur during an abnormally heavy lift, it’s just one of those things, she said.

“We’re not sure exactly if it was dormant lying there and I did one move that irritated it,” said Lassen. “It did just happen with a small lift of 65 kilos, which is about 100 less than my best. So it was kind of a fluke.

“For my back, I think the best thing is to focus on getting healthy. If it happens that someone (on the Olympic team) does get injured, I’m training to get my back healthy and I will be ready.”

Lassen retired from weightlifting in 2009 and returned to the sport in the spring of 2011. With just three weeks of preparation, Lassen won silver at the Western Canadian Championships in April of that year. Two months later, she won another silver, this time at the 2011 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships.

By the end of last August she was back on the national team after lifting gold at the Blue Mountain Open, a World Weightlifting Championships qualifier.

The IWF World Weightlifting Championships was the first in a string of competitions that would go towards earning a spot on the Olympic team. At the worlds, held in Paris, France, Lassen finished 15th in the women’s 75-kilogram division, tying for the second-highest standing of any Canadian at the championships.

Lassen then won gold at the Alberta Weightlifting Championships in November and gold at the Western Canadian Weightlifting Championships in April.

“I’m kind of in a rough spot because I don’t know what’s going to happen with my back in the future,” said Lassen. “But I’m trying to think positive and expect that it will recover and will be able to go to the Commonwealth Games in 2014, because that’s my goal right now.”

Lassen competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and finished eighth.

She is one of three Yukoners going to the London Olympics on Team Canada.

Watson Lake cyclist Zach Bell, who also competed at the 2008 Olympic Games, is on track for his second Games. Barring an injury or illness, Bell will represent Canada in the men’s omnium track event.

Watson Lake wrestler Brittanee Laverdure will be first-alternate in her weight class for the second Olympic Games in a row. Laverdure finished second, missing the one available spot at the 2012 Canadian Olympic Trials in December.

Contact Tom Patrick at