Emily Campbell claimed weightlifting gold in the women’s +87kg category at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The 28-year-old set a new personal best and Games record of 124kg in the snatch portion of the event, three kilograms clear of reigning champion Feagaiga Stowers of Samoa.
In front of a packed crowd at the NEC, the duo traded Games records with their opening clean-and-jerks, before Stowers failed on 154kg to confirm the gold medal for Campbell.
With two lifts still to go, Campbell raised the bar again with a successful lift of 157kg, before rounding off her competition by executing 162kg, eclipsing her total score in the Tokyo Olympics by three kilograms.
Campbell had taken bronze on the Gold Coast four years ago, behind gold medallist Feagaiga Stowers, and it soon became apparent that the 21-year-old Samoan would be the biggest threat to her hopes of claiming the title on home soil.
Stowers matched Campbell’s opening snatch lift of 117kg, but failed in her first attempt at 121kg, which allowed Campbell – with successive lifts of 121kg then a new Games record of 124kg, to move ahead at the halfway stage of the competition.
And there was little doubt about Campbell’s dominance as she delivered three consecutive clean-and-jerks to roar to victory in front of a delighted packed home crowd.
Afterwards Campbell paid tribute to four-time Commonwealth champion Precious McKenzie, now 86 years old, who watched from the front row. The pair have been the subjects of a play, ‘Precious Emily’, about their respective routes through the sport which has been staged at West Midlands theatres.
“Precious is immense in his own right,” said Campbell. “His words to me before I came out today were, ‘everybody is expecting you to win – you go out and win.’ I couldn’t have asked for any better advice.
Precious is immense in his own right. His words to me before I came out today were, 'everybody is expecting you to win - you go out and win.' When Precious McKenzie tells you to go out and win, you go out and win
“Precious has done immense things for weightlifting and he’s still here at 86 years old giving back to the sport. When Precious McKenzie tells you to go out and win, you go out and win.”
The 28-year-old Campbell, who had shared flag-bearing duties at last week’s opening ceremony, wrapped up what she described as her “perfect Games” with six consecutive clean lifts that saw her comfortably beat Stowers and Amoe-Tarrant to guarantee gold with two lifts remaining.
Campbell led by three kilograms after the opening snatch portion of the event, setting a new personal best and Games record in the process, before consecutive failures on 154kg by Stowers in the clean-and-jerk gifted the raucous culmination of the event to Campbell.
First she successfully raised the bar at 157kg before returning to eclipse her Tokyo total with a final lift of 162kg, celebrating in front of capacity crowd at the NEC.
“I’d done it in training but never on stage, and what a time to do it,” added Campbell. “To get personal bests and six out of six lifts, it’s what every weightlifter aims for. I couldn’t be happier with the way it went today. Some would say it has been the perfect Games.”
Campbell will now refocus on winning a second career medal at the World Championships in Bogota, Colombia, later this year, following the bronze she took in Tashkent in 2021.
In doing so she says she will savour the memory of winning her first Commonwealth Games gold medal at a home Games.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a crowd that immense and that reactive as well, they were sensational,” added Campbell.
“That’s all you want from a weightlifting competition. Those weights are heavy, you’ve got to lift it all by yourself, and to have that crowd behind you is fantastic.”