Emily Campbell Is the First Female Weightlifter to Win a Medal for Great Britain

The athlete made the lift of her life to secure a historic first for her home country.

In a session already decorated with impressive moments, British weightlifter Emily Campbell came from behind in a big way to secure the silver medal in the Women’s +87-kilogram category on August 2, 2021. It was her first appearance in the Olympics.

The 27-year-old athlete made an astonishing lift on her final clean & jerk attempt of the day to steal second place from American weightlifter Sarah Robles.

Though she was already guaranteed bronze, Campbell’s final attempt edged out the three-time Olympian from the United States by a single kilogram in the total to win the first weightlifting medal for a British woman in history. It was also Great Britain’s first overall medal in the sport since 1984

Emily Campbell Tokyo 2020 Lifts

  • Snatch — 118/122x/122 kilograms (268.9 pounds)
  • Clean & Jerk — 150/156/161 kilograms (354.9 pounds)
  • Total 283 kilograms (623.9 pounds)


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Prior to competing in Tokyo, Campbell had recorded a personal best clean & jerk of 154 kilograms (339.5 pounds). To not only succeed that weight by two kilograms, but return a third time to best it again by another five, speaks to her determination to place Britain on the podium. 

In an interview with BBC Sport following the medal ceremony on August 2, 2021, Campbell remarked, “I am speechless for the first time ever.” Her performance also set new British and Commonwealth records in the total. 

The +87KG Session

Campbell was not the only surprising moment out of a session predicted to be among the most interesting at this year’s Games. Laurel Hubbard, the first openly transgendered athlete to make an Olympic appearance, failed to register a total after three missed attempts in the snatch portion. 

China secured its seventh gold medal (eighth overall) in weightlifting after 21-year-old Li Wenwen lifted a 140 kilogram (308.6 pound) snatch and a 180 kilogram (396.8 pound) clean & jerk, totaling a full 37 kilograms higher than runner-up Campbell.

[Related: Shi Zhiyong Soars in Tokyo — Sets World Record Total]

Sarah Robles, who would have had a second-place finish if not for Campbell’s outrageous final lift, took home bronze, matching her result from the prior Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Three-time Olympian (London 2012) Robles became the first American weightlifter to win medals at multiple Games. 

+87-Kilogram Weightlifting Results 

  1. Li Wenwen (China) — 320 (140/180) (Gold, Olympic Record)
  2. Emily Campbell (Great Britain) — 283 (122/161) (Silver) 
  3. Sarah Robles (United States) — 282 (128/154) (Bronze)

Note: The above format is structured as Total (Snatch/Clean & Jerk).

The Games Conclude

With the Women’s events wrapped up in Tokyo, only two weightlifting events remain. The Men’s 109-kilogram Group A category will lift on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at 6:50 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The Men’s +109-kilogram Group A lifters will take the stage the next day on August 4, 2021, at the same time. 

Featured Image: Stephen Galvan for the IWF