Powerlifter Natalie Blake made an emotional goodbye to the sport as she lifted competitively for the final time at the Commonwealth Games.
The 35-year-old finished sixth in the women’s lightweight para-powerlifting competition on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Blake, of Newark, had hoped to emulate her silver medal success, achieved four years ago at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, but an issue with her right arm hampered her progress on Tuesday.
Blake was born with spina bifida, which prevented her vertebrae developing properly,
She made the decision to retire in December as the Games were held in the country where she made her Paralympic debut in 2000.
Blake made three clean lifts with a high of 76kg for a total of 77.1 points.
Her team mate, Zoe Newson, claimed a bronze with 106.1 after three successful lifts.
“It did not happen for me,” Blake said. “Due to technical problems with my right arm we had to lower the weight to get three good lifts in.
“I am happy to have come back to Australia, where I started the sport and took part in my first Paralympics. I wanted to finish here.
“I am retiring on a high. I wanted to do three good lifts and that is what I have done.”
'When I got into the stadium I started blubbering'
Blake said although she felt the time was right to say goodbye, it had been an emotional experience.
“I have been doing this for a very long time — 20 years,” she said.
“I have found it hard to motivate myself and struggled to lose weight.
“I have got memories of all the weights I have done over the years. I am going to enjoy my life.
“When I got into the stadium I started blubbering — it was just saying goodbye and having the memories.
“I am looking forward to watching everyone else lift.”
Blake, who has set countless national records in her career, said she wanted to return to the sport in the future as a coach to help someone else achieve their ambitions.
“I do not want to leave powerlifting altogether because this has been my life,” she said.
“There have been moments where it has not always been great, but I want to give something back.
“If I can help someone achieve what I have achieved over the years, that would be good.
“I weighed up the pros and cons before my decision. If the team needs me for anything I will be there to help out where I can.”
Blake said her first Paralympics at Sydney 2000, where women’s powerlifting was introduced for the first time, and her silver medal at Glasgow were her career highlights.