May 18 2013 Latest news:
Robin Cottle, Reporter
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Olympic weightlifting hopeful Zoe Smith is confident of success at this summer’s Games as the countdown ticked past 100 days.
The 17-year-old, who lives in Abbey Wood and went to Townley Grammar School in Bexleyheath, lifted a personal best 208kg overall in last week’s European Championships in Turkey.
It was good enough to finish fourth and achieve the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard.
She 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 faced before.
“But I’m very confident.”
She now competes in the 58kg class having been advised to drop down a weight division to improve her chances of success.
The weightlifter, who celebrates her 18th birthday next Thursday, recently passed her driving test to make it a double celebration.
It will be her first Olympics and she is relishing the chance to go for gold in front of her home fans.
Smith said: “It’s going to be a very surreal but enjoyable experience in front of the British support.
“I’ve lived in Greenwich all my life and it’s only a hop over the Thames to the ExCel Arena, where the weightlifting is taking place.”
Despite her fame and success, Smith likes to keep her feet on the ground with regular visits to her former Bexleyheath school.
The teenager said: “I go back to Townley on a regular basis and keep in contact with all my school friends –I’m always hanging around there!
“I might consider returning to do my A-levels after the Olympics when my schedule is a little bit less hectic.”
Smith took up weightlifting relatively late at age 12 on the suggestion of her gymnastics coach, co-owner of Crayford’s the Europa Centre, Yvonne Arnold.
She said: “I was a bit reluctant at first because it’s not a natural for a 12-year-old girl but after a few teething problems it turned out I was quite good.
“I haven’t trained at the new Europa Centre, but I will when all the weightlifting facilities are in place from September.”