Gladstone's golden girl arrives back home
NOW home after her heroic Commonwealth Games triumph on the Gold Coast, Gladstone's golden girl Tia-Clair Toomey reflected on what has been a heart-breaking yet triumphant period.
The Gladstone CrossFit businesswoman beat Canadian favourite Tali Darsigny in the final of the 58kg weighlifting category to claim her first Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Just days before, her cousin Jade Dixson was tragically killed in a car accident and Tia opens up to what has been an emotional ride.
"I don't think it has sunk in completely," she said.
"I mean to actually be able to live your dream and achieve the goals you have been working so hard for is something that doesn't really sink in, until when I would probably retire.
"Then you would be looking back on your career and what you have accomplished.
"But I'm just so happy and relieved I was able to pull that off. It was such an honour to actually experience what I experienced."
Tia showed an amazing capacity to focus just days after losing her cousin, something she believes acted as a spur.
"It's very hard to process, but in all honestly, when we found out, as tragic as it was, I kind of felt like I needed to go out there and do it for Jade," she said.
"I really and truly felt like she was out there lifting with me and if it wasn't for her and probably embracing her as such a young teenager who was so driven herself, I don't know that I would have been able to perform as well as I did knowing that my and Jade's family and friends were in the crowd."
Tia says Jade's presence, along with her family, was all the motivation she needed to succeed.
"I want to thank her for what she has provided me and I guess that whole experience - the gold medal, the lifting, the performance - it was in memory of Jade," Tia said.
On that magic Friday night, Tia says she wasn't aware she'd struck gold in the immediate moment after her final lift.
But when the realisation did come across, she wanted to run out and celebrate straight after she had been ushered behind the scenes.
"I was just so excited that I hit six out of six lifts and I had done everything that I possibly could have in order to perform at my absolute best with the numbers I was given," she said.
"When I hit the lift I was super excited, it was really embracing the crowd.
"In all honesty, I didn't realise I won gold until I actually went out the back and everyone was like 'that's it'."
When the golden reality hit home, all Tia wanted to do was celebrate with the crowd.
And that's exactly what she did.
"I ended up going back out and giving them all a big wave because the crowd was just unbelievable," she said.
"I believe that in the athletics stadium next door, they actually heard the roar in the weightlifting venue.
"That's how loud it was.
"It was unbelievable."
Tia will resume training ahead of the regionals and CrossFit Games later this year.
A public reception will be held for Tia-Clair later this week.
Details and a commemorative poster will be published in The Observer.