Golden future for weightlifter Zoe
July 26, 2012 16:16 pm
Zoe Smith admits the London Olympics have "come a little too soon" for her gold medal aspirations, but predicts she will be up there with the world's best weightlifters in four years' time.
The Greenwich-born athlete remains just 18 years old heading into her first Games, having only switched from gymnastics as a youngster six years ago.
Smith, though, has already made giant strides on her way to being the poster girl for British weightlifting, breaking hundreds of British junior records while becoming the youngest-ever medallist in Commonwealth Games lifting history when she claimed bronze in Delhi two years ago.
But by her own admission, the teenager does remain a little way off the world's best at this early stage in her talented career.
UK Sport, the body which invests funds including National Lottery money into Olympic sports, has not projected any weightlifting medals over the coming weeks, while Team GB weightlifting head coach Tamas Feher has set Smith the performance target of being around the top six to eight places.
Smith, who will compete in the women's 58kg weight category at ExCeL on Monday, said: "I know I have to work and be patient but it's such an exciting time and I want it all now. At times I get frustrated with myself and ask why I can't have it all now.
"It's a shame that Rio (2016 Games) isn't now so I could go under the radar, then turn up in London and really be pushing for gold because I do think in four years I will be up there. It has come a little too soon, although I'm not going to be winning golds this time I will be getting my name out there. I really hope to be a world-beater by then, if not I'll be doing something wrong."
Like her four weightlifting compatriots - Natasha Perdue, Gareth Evans, Peter Kirkbride and Jack Oliver - London 2012 will be Smith's first taste of the Olympics. The 2010 Commonwealth Games were her first senior international championships, since then Smith has got the experience of World and European Championships under her belt.
The likeable teenager is a consistent performer when it matters, with competition often bringing out the best in her, highlighted by the fact she was the only British lifter to achieve the Olympic qualifying A standard - twice - in the build-up to the Games. And Smith admits she has learnt to deal with her nerves much better than when she first started out.
"This (London) is pretty much the biggest competition I'll ever do," she said. "Before Delhi it was the same kind of thing, it was the biggest competition I'd ever done my first senior multi-sport event. Before Delhi I fell apart, I forgot how to lift weights and just started crying on the mat."
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