Emma Alderdice’s landmark World Championships debut proved a story of pain, perseverance and pride in America.
The Markethill competitor stepped out at the International Weightlifting Federation’s global showpiece as the first female from Northern Ireland to reach the finals.
Years of hard work culminated in a competition personal best on Saturday evening - with her role as the leading female within Northern Ireland’s growing weightlifting community reflected in video viewing figures of over 14,000 across two days.
The national champion recovered from disappointment across her first and second 72-kilos snatch attempts to secure the weight on the third and final attempt.
“Emma really is the forerunner for female Olympic weightlifting and everyone back home was watching on with such pride,” said her coach, Timmy Graham. “To even qualify for the World Championships was amazing and the whole experience of America can only help Emma moving forward in her career.
“We will sit down and analyse everything once Emma gets back to Northern Ireland but it has been an amazing story since taking up the sport in 2011.
“Emma had to show genuine mental strength to recover from those two setbacks and not many in the sport bounce back in that situation.
“We had been training twice every day from around the summer leading up to the Worlds and her dedication was wonderful.
“Emma is setting the standard but has so much potential and can only develop from watching and spending time around the best in the world.
“Arriving at the World finals was about enjoying the opportunity rather than any push for medals but it will prove invaluable to her continued progress.”
An impressive clean-and-jerk performance covered three weights of 88 kilos, 91 kilos and 94 kilos for an overall 166 score within the 58-kilos division.
“Emma had to work really hard to drop down to meet that weight category and it all came down to that one appearance,” said Graham. “That third lift would have been the hardest of her career given the pressure but credit to Emma for making it count.
“Everyone is so proud.”