Tia-Clair Toomey dedicated her Commonwealth Games gold medal to her teenage cousin, who was killed in a car accident the week before her event.
The former Weipa resident took out the 58kg women’s weightlifting title on Friday night with a clean and jerk of 114kg.
Toomey’s 17-year-old cousin Jade Dixson had been planning to watch Toomey compete, but was a passenger in a car that crashed into a tree on the Sunshine Coast.
“Last Tuesday, she passed away in a car accident, which was very, very shocking to the family. It was heartbreaking,” she told Weekend Sunrise on Channel 7.
Toomey said the sudden loss rocked the family, and she did not have the chance to properly grieve because she needed to focus on the Commonwealth Games.
“As a family, I didn’t know if my family were going to be coming (to watch the competition), obviously, because it is a very hard time for them,” she said.
“They were all there supporting me and I feel like... that performance last night was definitely for Jade. She was lifting the bar with me.”
For nearly two weeks the reigning CrossFit champion put her grief on hold, desperately focusing on weightlifting in the hope she might win gold in memory of a cousin so suddenly lost.
The tears finally came on Friday night when the world’s fittest woman proved she is also the strongest in the Commonwealth.
The 24-year-old held her nerve in a heart-stopping duel to pip Canadian favourite Tali Darsigny by 1kg on the Gold Coast.
She was confident and smiling as she lifted a PB snatch of 87kg and then a dramatic clean-and-jerk PB of 114kg to clinch a winning total of 201kg.
Toomey went toe to toe with Darsigny throughout and sat 1kg adrift following the snatch section.
But the Canadian’s best of 112kg on her final lift was only good enough for a combined 200kg.
Toomey upped the ante on her rival with each lift, comfortably conquering 107kg, then 111kg, before completing the required 114kg.
It was afterwards, when she finally allowed herself to reunite with family, that the bittersweet nature of her remarkable triumph began to sink in.
“It was more than just weightlifting, more than just the Commonwealth Games last night. It was best to kind of say, ‘We love you’,” she told Weekend Sunrise.
“I wanted to make sure brought my absolute best.
Her next focus is the CrossFit Games in June.