They couldn’t have done more to hype up Emily Campbell’s entrance to the Commonwealth Games.
The flamboyant England flagbearer was greeted by weightlifting’s first-ever live DJ set and a frenzy of fluorescent wristbands that turned green to celebrate good lifts.
The women’s 87+kg competition was preceded by a local school choir singing an uplifting song dedicated to legendary lifter Precious McKenzie.
4ft 6in and 86-year-old McKenzie, described as the Queen’s favourite sportsperson, stepped onto the platform, and called it ‘the greatest day of my life.’
No pressure then for Campbell, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support, to deliver the goods in the shape of her first Commonwealth gold.
She did so handsomely, with a Games record total of 286kg that was 3kg higher than her Tokyo total, lifting new personal bests in both snatch and clean and jerk.
Campbell said: “To lead out the home nation at a Games is a privilege and something I’ll remember forever.
“The reason we come here is to perform on that stage so to get that perfect performance on the stage as well, you could call it a perfect Games.
“An Olympic medal is what everyone on this planet wants to do. But there’s something quite special about the Commonwealth, the people of the Commonwealth.
“The atmosphere that’s been around the village and arenas has been special and to top it off with the performance today, I can’t ask for anymore."
McKenzie, the last weightlifter before Campbell to carry the England flag at these Games, gave a pre-competition pep talk in his own inimitable way.
Campbell recounted “His words to me before today were ‘everyone’s expecting you to win, go out and win’. I couldn’t have asked for better advice from him really.
“When Precious McKenzie tells you to go out and win, you go out and win.”
The first British female weightlifter to win an Olympic medal, Campbell has won medals at all four majors within a year - Tokyo silver, world bronze, European gold and now a Commonwealth title.
Stowers started with a snatch of 121kg, but Campbell then cracked out a Games record of 124, sticking her tongue out in glee with the barbell raised.
Fans was cheered by Dame Kelly Holmes and amped up by weightlifting’s first-ever live DJ set, a flurry of fluorescent wristbands.
In clean and jerk Stowers failed twice at 154 and Campbell ripped 162 to send the crowd wild.
She said: “I don’t think we’ve ever had a crowd that immense and that reactive.
“They were loving it, embracing everyone who went out there, and 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.”
Campbell has all the medals, accolades, and fans she could need by the age of 28, but still has plenty to do in the sport.
She said: “Everything is a stepping stone on the way to Paris, it’s getting closer.
“We have World Championships at the end of the year, so I need to go back, refocus, and get ready for that. I take every competition as it comes and keep trying to put in the best performances I can.”
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