Emily Campbell won gold in the women’s +87kg weightlifting category at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The 28-year-old set a new personal best and a Games record of 124kg in the snatch portion of the event, threekg more than reigning champion Feagaiga Stowers of Samoa.
In front of a packed crowd at the NEC, the duo traded Games records with their first clean-and-jerks, before Stowers failed to secure the gold medal for Campbell at 154kg.
With two lifts to go, Campbell raised the bar again with a successful lift of 157 kg, before finishing her competition with 162 kg, surpassing her overall score at the Tokyo Olympics by three kilograms.
Campbell had won bronze on the Gold Coast four years ago, behind gold medalist Feagaiga Stowers, and it soon became clear that the 21-year-old Samoan would pose the biggest threat to her hopes of claiming the title on home soil.
Stowers matched Campbell’s opening weight of 117kg, but failed in her first attempt at 121kg, leaving Campbell – with consecutive lifts of 121kg and then a new Games record of 124kg – halfway through the competition.
And there was little doubt about Campbell’s dominance as she delivered three straight clean-and-jeks to roar to victory in front of a delighted home crowd.
Then Campbell paid tribute to four-time Commonwealth champion Precious McKenzie, now 86 years old, who watched from the front row. The pair were the subject of a play, ‘Precious Emily’, about their respective routes through the sport which has been staged in the theaters of the West Midlands.
“Precious is immense in its own right,” Campbell said. “His words to me before coming out today were, ‘Everyone expects you to win – you go out and win.’ I couldn’t have wished for better advice.
Precious is immense in its own right. His words to me before I came out today were ‘everyone expects 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 tremendous things for weightlifting and he is still here at age 86 to give back to the sport. When Precious McKenzie tells you to go out and win, you go out and win.”
Campbell, 28, who had shared flag-carrying duties at last week’s opening ceremony, capped off what she described as her “perfect Games” with six straight clean lifts comfortably beating Stowers and Amoe-Tarrant to guarantee gold with more two elevators.
Campbell led by three kilograms after the opening portion of the event, setting a new personal and Games record, before successive 154kg failures by Stowers in the clean-and-jerk bestowed the raw highlight of the event on Campbell.
First, she successfully raised the bar at 157kg before returning to top her Tokyo total with a final lift of 162kg, celebrating in front of packed crowds at the NEC.
“I had done it in training but never on stage, and what a time to do it,” Campbell added. “Having personal records and six out of six lifts is what every weightlifter strives for. I couldn’t be happier with the way things went today. Some would say it was the perfect Games.”
Campbell will now once again focus on winning a second career medal at the World Championships in Bogota, Colombia later this year, following the bronze she took in 2021 in Tashkent.
In doing so, she says she will enjoy the memory of winning her first Commonwealth Games gold medal at a home game.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had such a huge and reactive audience, they were sensational,” Campbell added.
“That’s all you want from a weightlifting competition. Those weights are heavy, you have to lift it all by yourself, and to have that crowd behind you is fantastic.”