Search

Weightlifter Zoe Smith going for gold

11:20 26 July 2012

Zoe Smith with her bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games

Zoe Smith with her bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Weightlifter Zoe Smith was dubbed ‘Britain’s strongest girl’ when she won Commonwealth Bronze in 2010 but the teenager is hoping to show she’s grown up at the Olympics. Smith, who competes in the 58kg division, is aware big things are expected of her and is relishing competing in a home Games.

In competition during the Commonwealth GamesIn competition during the Commonwealth Games

She turned 18 in April and the former Bexleyheath pupil, who went to Townley Grammar School, only turned to weightlifting when her gymnastics coach Yvonne Arnold suggested she should give it a go as a 12-year-old.

Smith said: “Ideally at the end of the Olympics I’ll have a medal around my neck but the standard I’ll face this summer will be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I’m a mixture between nervous and excited at the moment. Having the crowd behind me will hopefully push me to perform better and the Commonwealth Games experience will definitely help.It’s only a small hop over to the ExCel Arena to my home in Abbey Wood and it should be a great experience.”

She lifted a personal best at the European Championships in April this year, her overall score of 208kg enough to clinch fourth place and achieve the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard in the process.

Things may have been very different had it not been for Mrs Arnold, co-owner of the Europa Centre in Crayford where Smith will train after the Olympics, suggesting she represent Greenwich in weightlifting in the London Youth Games in 2006.

Zoe Smith enjoying the medal ceremonyZoe Smith enjoying the medal ceremony

This took her away from her first love gymnastics.

Her former gymnastics coach said: “I can’t wait to see Zoe in action. I couldn’t be more proud.

“She’s obviously under a lot of pressure but the one bit of advice I’d give her would be to stay focused and don’t get distracted by everything going on around her!”

Her mother Niki did not try to hide her pride when questioned.

“She often complains that she thinks her dad Terry and I are too proud of her. Her dad and younger sister Yana never come to the competitions because they can’t bear the tension. Wild horses wouldn’t keep me away from her Olympic debut though!”

Smith said: “I was a bit reluctant at first because although I was quite a strong kid, lifting weights isn’t a natural fit for a teenage girl.

“But after a few teething problems it turned out I was quite good and I’ve never looked back.

Smith completed her GCSEs at Townley Grammar in heading to the British weightlifting HQ in Leeds to train full-time.

Despite measuring just 5ft and weighing 9st 12 lb, she wants to show that it is possible to be muscular and feminine and self-confidence is not something the teenager seems to suffer from.

“We are just normal people who lift heavy things. I think they expect me to be massive, with facial hair and muscles popping out everywhere!”

Smith has kept her feet on the ground despite the spotlight glaring on her at such a young age.

This has included regular visits to her former school to keep in touch with former classmates and teachers.

“Since I moved back to London I go to Townley on a regular basis - I’m always hanging around there!” Townley’s headmaster Desmond Deehan said: “We’re incredibly proud of Zoe, both as an athlete and a student. We’ve been following her career closely and love it when she comes back to visit.

“We agreed she should take some time for the Olympics but we’d welcome her back if she decides to come and finish her A-levels.”

While she is still a teenager, Smith is nothing if not dedicated and determined and has her eyes set on an Olympic medal.

It may be an outside shot, but with the 58kg final on Monday (July 30) she doesn’t have to wait long to try and realise her dreams.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

12:30
One option provided in the consultation document suggests the addition of a pedestrian crossing to provide a more direct route to Highbury and Islington station.

TfL has unveiled radical plans to pedestrianise Highbury Corner.

09:16
Theresa Conteh, 39, has been missing from the Holloway Road area in Islington since Saturday

A 39-year-old woman who went missing from her home in Islington on Saturday has been found.

07:00
(L to R): James Timbs-Harrison, Stuart Markland, Liam Browning and James Kendall row more than 3,000 nautical miles for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Four friends who braved a hurricane and slept no more than two hours at a time for 44 days have completed an incredible 3,400-mile rowing trip across the Atlantic in the name of charity.

Yesterday, 09:00
Prince Andrew talking at Pitch@Palace

Tech City is the third-largest technology hub in the world, and it’s right on our doorstep. Each week, we bring you news from the thriving area around Old Street roundabout. This week, Victoria Ibitoye talks to Tim El-Sheikh, the founder of the bio-tech start-up Scicasts, who pitched to Prince Andrew at Pitch@Palace

Saturday, February 6, 2016
Rising Star: Little Simz, real name Simbi Ajikawo

Islington rapper Simbi Ajikawo, more commonly known as Little Simz, speaks to the Gazette after becoming the first independent rap artist to feature in the Forbes “30 Under 30” list.

Saturday, February 6, 2016
Priscilla 'Sapphira' Silcock, of Blackstock Road, Highbury, is leading a world record attempt for the biggest ever burlesque dance. She is pictured centre with Joy Flatt, left, and Justine Lamond, right

An ambitious dancer and singer from Highbury is organising a 300-strong burlesque spectacular a week today – so she can attract the attention of Sir Richard Branson.

Friday, February 5, 2016
Labour's mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan visited Islington Bunhill Energy Centre, annoucing the creation of 'Energy for Londoners', a not-for-profit company that will take a lead on clean and green energy across the city.

Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan today outlined how he would address youth violence and the housing crisis in Islington.

Friday, February 5, 2016
Caledonian Park Clock Tower, Cafe and Toilets Project - 2016 Artist's Impression

Designs have been finalised for a controversial visitor centre at the foot of the Caledonian Park clock tower – despite fierce local opposition to the plans.

Most read news

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe