Emily Campbell wrote her name in the history books as the winner of Team GB’s first ever medal in women’s weightlifting after brilliantly taking silver in the +87kg category.
Team GB had previously won one gold, three silvers and three bronzes in Olympic weightlifting but those were all by men – with the first being Launceston Elliot’s gold-silver double at Athens 1896 and the most recent David Mercer’s third place at Los Angeles 1984.
Campbell wrote a new chapter in Great Britain’s weightlifting history as she edged out USA’s Sarah Robles by just one kilogram at the Tokyo International Forum.
Campbell, 27, from Nottingham, said: “I’m actually speechless, for the first time ever.
“You know you’re getting in shape for these Games, you know you want to perform at your best but to actually put it out on this stage, I’m thrilled.
“I said to the coaches, ‘what just happened?’ They were my words. The last lift wasn’t a perfect clean, it was a little bit in front and I knew I had to fight for it, nine times out of ten if I stand up clean, I’m going to jerk it.
“So I just had to breathe, to say to myself, ‘you’ve done this 100 times, just jerk it’, and I’m just lost for words.
“I just want to thank everyone who believed in me. You can achieve anything you want to, I picked up a barbell for the first time five years ago for the first time and now I’m an Olympic silver medallist.”
In the snatch phase, Campbell lifted 122kg with her final attempt to lie fourth but then brilliantly catapulted herself into the medal positions in the clean & jerk.
She successfully lifted 150kg with her first attempt, followed it up with 156kg and then completed the set with 161kg for an overall total across the phases of 283kg.
With Robles having failed on her 157kg effort that would have given the American silver, it was the Brit – a all-round sports star in her youth, having competed in basketball, netball, rowing, hammer throw, shot put and discus – who ultimately claimed second place.
The competition was dominated by China’s world record holder Li Wenwen, as she obliterated the rest of the field’s weights by lifting a 140kg snatch and 180kg clean & jerk for a 320kg total – all Olympic records.
But Campbell, who announced herself as an Olympic medal contender when winning gold at the European Weightlifting Championships earlier in 2021, leaves Tokyo with an historic silver around her neck.