Weightlifter Emily Campbell: "I was the first, but I really hope I am not the last"

Emily Campbell is on a mission - but it is not one that necessarily ends with a medal.

The 30-year-old is aiming to inspire as many people as possible to take up weightlifting before she calls the sport quits and is heading to her second Games in Paris, with her selection now officially confirmed.

Campbell made history at Tokyo 2020 as she became Britain’s first female Olympic medallist in the discipline.

Her ambition now is to ensure she will not be the last.

“I can remember having a couple of role models when I grew up - the likes of Kelly Holmes, Denise Lewis and Jessica Ennis-Hill,” the Nottingham native said.

“To see women that look like me on the TV doing incredible things was such a special thing.

“And if I can provide that for young people coming up now to see that too, it is special.

“You never set out to be in this position of being a face of a sport, but it is the path that was chosen for me, and I have got to try and do that to the best of my ability and do it justice.

“I am trying to enjoy it as well as feeling a massive responsibility. I do love it and I just want to put our sport in the light, for people to watch our sport and enjoy our sport.

“It is so nice that our sport has got a spotlight and people appreciate what we do and people know that we are serious.

“We train hard and we have big aspirations. Hopefully I can keep on this little mission of bringing people to our sport and goes in the right direction.”

Campbell was one of four British female weightlifters selected for the Tokyo Games but will fly the flag solo in Paris.

She will also look to bring the Games to a close in the best possible way, with her event taking place on the final day of competition.

Her aim for her second Games is to enjoy the experience more and feed off the return of crowds to the Olympics.

She added: “It is called the Greatest Show on Earth for a reason.

"This time I am going to take a wealth of experience of the emotions of how to deal with being there, taking in everything but also to enjoy every single moment.

“You can get so worked up around competition day, but you’ve got to take in the journey that gets you there.

“I am so excited with the crowds that are going to be there this time, it will be a whole different atmosphere, a whole different buzz.

“It is not going to be a 'thankful that we are here' situation that Tokyo was, this time it will be let’s really represent our country the best way we can and put on a show.

“The moment of peace is on the podium, once you get off that it is pretty mad, there are press conferences, there’s lots of interviews.

“It is amazing because I didn’t realise the stir that I had caused back home in Tokyo. Then when you speak to people and you finally arrive in the UK, you realise the madness that happened.”

There will be a large Campbell contingent in Paris. Her parents and sister will be among those in attendance but the roll call also extends to her lash technician.

Campbell is made for the big stage and drew attention for her blue and red hair in Tokyo, with another eye-catching do expected in Paris.

She completed a 'four-peat' of European titles in Sofia earlier this year and has also medalled at two World Championships.

But through all that success, she has learned that silverware is not the only way to measure impact.

“In my career for a long time, everyone has been expecting me to win medals,” said Campbell, who is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme.

“But I always go back to the fact that it is always about me and how I feel, and what I want to achieve, and I can only do my best. That is all I do every time I go out there.

“I go out there and give all I have got and if I get rewarded for that, that is amazing but if I don't that is life and I am just a human being.

“I feel a sense of responsibility before I leave the sport to try and leave as much inspiration as I can for those girls to follow in my footsteps because yes, I was the first medal, but I really hope I am not the last.

“I want there to be more and more girls in our sport going out there, competing with the best and winning shiny things to show for it.

“I have a little mission to complete before I am done.”

Sportsbeat 2024