Sarah Davies became the first female British weightlifter to win a World Championship silver medal ©Getty Images

Sarah Davies achieved the best result ever by a British female at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Championships when she finished second in Tashkent, Uzbekistan today.

Davies, 29, was in tears after making all six lifts for a career-best total of 234 kilograms in the 71kg category.

After her final lift, Davies was in the lead with only the American Meredith Alwine yet to finish, but Alwine confidently made a clean and jerk of 135kg to move ahead by 1kg and take the gold.

Only four months ago, Britain had its best-ever Olympic result from a female when Emily Campbell took the super-heavyweight silver in Tokyo.

Campbell lifts in Tashkent on Friday.

"What a year 2021 has been – and with Emily still to come," said Ashley Metcalfe, chief executive of British Weight Lifting.

It has been a great year, too, for the Atlas Gym in Alfreton in Derbyshire, where both Campbell and Davies train under coaches Cyril Martin and Dave Sawyer.

Sawyer was there in his role as a coach today and described Davies' effort as "brilliant lifting".

Davies was full of praise for her coaches, too, saying: "It’s a great team."

After taking some time off after the Olympic Games, she returned to training in October, moving up from the 64kg category where she finished second in the European Championships and fifth in Tokyo.

"So I’ve only been a 71 for three months," said Davies. 

"Not bad!"

Since women started competing at the IWF World Championships, first in a separate competition in 1987 and then alongside the men from 1991, no British woman had ever finished higher than third on total - until today.

Myrtle Augee, a former international shot putter, was the last British female medallist on total in 1994.

"That’s only just after I was born," said Davies, who has already set herself a target of winning Commonwealth Games gold next year.

Alwine, 23, has now won her past five competitions - including the delayed 2020 Pan American Championships and now the IWF World Championships this year.

She missed her final attempt at 138kg but always looked the likely winner because of her prowess in the clean and jerk.

The other American in the contest, the 18-year-old junior world champion Olivia Reeves, was desperately close to making the podium too.

Reeves failed with her first and third clean and jerks and was one of three athletes who ended with a total of 231kg.

The one who got there first was 32-year-old Patricia Strenius of Sweden, who also missed her final two attempts but held on for third place.

Reeves was fourth, Vanessa Sarno of the Philippines was fifth – both also on 231kg – and the B Group lifter Joy Eze of Nigeria was sixth after breaking two youth world records.

Eze, 17, made a clean and jerk of 130kg and a total of 230kg.

She was in the lead in the clean and jerk until the last four lifts in the A Group and looks sure to give Davies some serious competition in Birmingham next year.

Eze took the clean and jerk bronze and became Nigeria's first world record holder in youth weightlifting, and Reeves - making her senior debut - took silver in the snatch with 104kg to become the third-youngest American woman to win a medal at the senior worlds and the youngest to do so in 22 years.

It was Reeves' senior international debut.

In the other medal event of the day, the men’s 89kg, the halfway leader Andranik Karapetyan of Armenia bombed out in the clean and jerk, having been well clear on 175kg in the snatch.

The winner was Yu Dongju of Korea on 167-204-371, which was 3kg less than the total posted on Sunday by the 81kg champion Karlos Nasar of Bulgaria.

Second was Sarvarbek Zafarjonov of host nation Uzbekistan on the same total (166-205), and third on 370kg was Revaz Davitadze of Georgia.