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Weightlifting champion Zoe Smith is 'completely focussed' for 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

PUBLISHED: 16:18 11 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:18 11 January 2016

Zoe Smith

Zoe Smith

Ian Hodgson Photography

The 21-year-old went to school in Bexleyheath and has spoken of the importance of sleep and good preparation

Commonwealth gold medallist Zoe Smith says she is “completely focussed” as she prepares to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The weightlifter, 21, went to school in Bexleyheath and currently holds the British record for clean and jerk.

She said: “This year is going to be one of the biggest of my career so far.

“I’m completely focused on qualifying to compete for my country at the games and I’m working hard to make sure I’m at peak condition, both mentally and physically.

“Part of this comes down to my sleep, as well as training and nutrition, as these are the three most important things when it comes to improving performance.”

Smith insisted one of the keys to success was ensuring there is enough time to recover.

“I spend the majority of my time in the gym and sleep is absolutely vital as this is when the body naturally restores and repairs itself,” she said.

“I notice the difference between a good and bad night’s sleep as when I’ve slept badly, I don’t feel totally recovered in the gym the next morning and it’s very hard to concentrate.

“Weightlifting is a very technical sport so if your mental game is a little off, so is your technique which never makes for a successful training session.

“As you’d expect of someone who lifts heavy things over their head as a job, I’ve suffered from a few back injuries throughout my career.

“Getting sound, comfortable sleep is important for injury.

“During the day, athletes are surrounded by an entire team of support staff to make sure every last thing we do is going to aid our performance, but come night time, it’s not uncommon for subpar sleep to set back the whole process.”

Smith was speaking at the launch of a partnership with UK bed manufacturer, Sealy, where she will be the main star of its World of Sport campaign, promoting the intrinsic link between sleep and sporting success.

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