Evans proud of personal bests
Gareth Evans paid tribute to his parents after fulfilling an Olympic dream with his performance in the men's 69kg weightlifting at ExCeL.
The 26-year-old, from Holyhead, saved the best lifts of his career for London 2012 as he set three personal bests, although British records narrowly evaded him.
It was only enough to claim eighth place in the B group and, with a further 14 A group lifters to go, it means Evans will likely finish outside the top 20, but the Welshman walks away with his head very much held high.
Evans' father, speaking during the interval, admitted he was "bursting with pride" to sit in the stands and see his son performing on the Olympic stage, and Evans himself struggled to hold back the tears when talking about all they have done for him to reach this moment.
"My mum and dad have been fantastic since I started the sport when I was 12 years old," he said, having initially been unable to get the words out.
"Before I was getting kit bought for me by Adidas and British Weight Lifting, weightlifting boots aren't cheap, £150 a pair, lifting suits aren't cheap, £80-100 each, and they never wanted anything.
"I had the best of everything and they took me to competitions, took me to GB squads, they couldn't have done more for me."
Overcoming a lump in his throat, he added: "That was for them. I'm really proud to have done it for them, as well as my little girl, it's something for her to be proud of when she's older."
But Evans has also had to make a fair share of sacrifices himself.
The warm and likeable lifter gave up his day job as a painter and decorator to move to Leeds last July in order to be based near British Weight Lifting's high performance centre.
It meant a heartbreaking move away from his three-year-old daughter in pursuit of the Olympic path and although he would like to remain full-time, he admits it would have to be back in North Wales.
"I can't [stay] in Leeds, I can't stay away from my little girl any longer," Evans said. "But if the opportunity arose I'd love to stay full-time. I'll cross that bridge when it comes. I'm prepared to pick paint brushes up again.
"I'm going to keep training hard, if that's the London Olympics then the Glasgow Commonwealth Games [in 2014] are going to be the same and I intend to bring gold home from there."
Evans revealed he was nervous and excited beforehand, getting very little sleep last night.
But only excitement was evident on stage as he milked a feverish crowd - entertaining and involving the swell of British fans as he cranked the atmosphere right up there with the levels of support shown to Zoe Smith yesterday.
Evans, in his first Games, managed to snatch 130kg - overtaking his previous PB of 126kg - but missing out on Stewart Cruikshank's British record of 132.5kg set 10 years ago.
He then made light work of 158kg in the clean and jerk, surpassing his PB by three kilos, to provide a total of 288kg - smashing his previous best of 277kg - although Cruikshank's British record stands at 297.5kg.
"It's absolutely, absolutely fantastic," he said.
"My aim was to come out and give a good account of myself, lift some PB's and entertain the crowd, I'd like to think I've done that."
North Korea's Kim Myong-hyok (329kg) took the honours in the B group but that will not be enough for a medal when the elite lifters go to work tonight.
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