Emily Sweeney takes encouragement from former weightlifting champion after dismal Commonwealth debut

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Commonwealth Games - Weightlifting - Women's 87kg - Final - The NEC Hall 1, Birmingham, Britain - August 2, 2022 England's Emily Sweeney in action during the final REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Commonwealth Games - Weightlifting - Women's 87kg - Final - The NEC Hall 1, Birmingham, Britain - August 2, 2022 England's Emily Sweeney in action during the final REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

By Andy Baber

Shropshire weightlifter Emily Sweeney shrugged off a disastrous Commonwealth Games debut by taking encouragement from the experience of a past champion.

The 18-year-old from Ellesmere had concentrated the last two years to Birmingham 2022, training throughout lockdown during the pandemic for her moment on the international stage.

But after all those hours in the garage pushing herself to the max, she failed to complete a lift in the women’s 87kg final as - in her own words - she bombed out of the competition.

Sweeney had three attempts at 88kg in the snatch and was unable to deliver a clean lift on all three occasions as she suffered an early exit, leaving her to wonder what went wrong.

“It wasn’t quite what I expected to do on my Commonwealth Games debut, but it's done, I gave it my all,” said Sweeney, who took up weightlifting after starting cross-fit aged 12.

“I opened a bit lower than expected to just try and secure one, but it wasn’t there. I’ve just got to re-focus. I’ve got Europeans in October and that is when you will see me at my best again.

“I don’t really know what went wrong, I had the best warm-up I have ever had. I’ve never had a bomb-out but now I have, and it is out the way, let’s crack on with six for six next time.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, comprises of over 400 athletes, all vying for medal success.

While Sweeney’s challenge at the Commonwealth Games ended in disappointment, Eileen Cikamatana rose to the occasion to take gold for Australia in a new Games record.

Canadian Kristen Ngarlem finished second to grab the silver while Nigeria’s Mary Taiwo Osijo completed the podium, with Sweeney finishing bottom of the pack with no lifts.

Yet a word in the ear for Sweeney from retired 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Emily Muskett (previously Godley) ensured the teen was not too hard on herself.

She said: “It’s not ideal but I have got to take the positives from it, move on and keep training. I spoke to Emily Godley, and she had a similar experience which made me feel better.

“She’s obviously a former Commonwealth Games champion so these things happen to everyone and now it’s happened we can just move past it and look to the future instead.”

One of the other positives Sweeney took from her experience was the support she received at Birmingham’s NEC, even if she Wass gutted not to give them more to cheer.

“It was insane, words can't describe it,” she added. “Having a home crowd was just immense but at the end of the day I just wasn’t here today, I can’t be mad I left it all out there.”

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