Zoe Smith

Further Personal Information
Residence
London, ENG
Occupation
Customer Service, Student
Languages
English
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up the sport at age 12 at the Europa Weightlifting Club in Erith, England.
Why this sport?
She was encouraged by British Olympic gymnast Yvonne Arnold, who co-owns the Europa club with her husband. "I was training as a gymnast and was asked to participate in the weightlifting club situated downstairs from the gymnastics centre. This was because they needed a female lifter to allow them to enter a team in the London Youth Games for the borough of Greenwich. It turned out I was actually too young to compete in the Games that year but I decided there and then that I wanted to pursue weightlifting further."
Club / Team
Europa Weightlifting Club: England
Name of coach
Andrew Callard [club]; Dave Sawyer [national]
Training Regime
"I train five or six days a week. Often these sessions will be split in two to allow for other commitments such as work and college. Each session will usually be snatch or clean and jerk focused, with additional assistance exercises for building strength and general conditioning. I don't generally have a weekly goal; all my training is geared towards preparing for a specific competition."
General Interest
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, despite carrying a back injury into the event. (dailymail.co.uk, 07 Apr 2018)
Most influential person in career
Coach Andrew Callard. (britishweightlifting.org, 29 Oct 2014)
Injuries
She was suffering from a back injury in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, and required an epidural in order to compete at the event. Despite the injury she still won a silver medal in the 63kg category. (bbc.co.uk, 07 Apr 2018)

In June 2016 a serious right shoulder injury [partial dislocation, torn ligaments] that required surgery ruled her out of the 2016 British Championships in Coventry and eventually ruled her out of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. (bbc.co.uk, 07 Apr 2018; 11 Jun 2016)

In April 2016 a knee problem and a slight back injury affected her performance at the 2016 European Championships in Forde, Norway. (bbc.co.uk, 13 Apr 2016)

A virus forced her to withdraw from the 2014 World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan. (bbc.co.uk, 11 Nov 2014)

She returned to competition in February 2014 after almost a year out with a back injury. (keighleynews.co.uk, 27 Feb 2014; bbc.co.uk, 25 Sep 2013)

A back injury forced her to miss the 2011 European Youth Championships in Ciechanow, Poland. (bbc.co.uk, 04 Aug 2011)

She suffered a shoulder injury when winning a silver medal at the 2011 World Youth Championships in Lima, Peru. (bbc.co.uk, 04 Aug 2011)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Something that has always resonated with me is what my coach told me at my first competition. I asked him to wish me luck, to which he replied, 'You don't need luck, just the opportunity'." (dwfitnessfirst.com, 12 Sep 2018)
Awards and honours
She was named the 2008 British Olympic Association [BOA] Athlete of the Year for weightlifting. (guardian.co.uk, 15 Feb 2011)
Milestones
In 2014 she became the first female weightlifter representing England to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games when she was victorious in the 58kg category in Glasgow, Scotland. Four years earlier she had become England's first female Commonwealth Games medallist in weightlifting when she claimed bronze in the same event in Delhi, India. (SportsDeskOnline, 06 Sep 2019; weareengland.org, 28 Aug 2015; bbc.co.uk, 06 Oct 2010)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. (Facebook profile, 31 Jul 2018; dailymail.co.uk, 07 Apr 2018)
Other information
RETURN FROM INJURY
She won an unexpected silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, after coming back from a serious shoulder injury she suffered in 2016. "I had an epidural while I was in the prep camp. Since then there have been multiple trips to the doctors, multiple painkillers, anti-inflammatories, but even after all that, it was still awful. I could not lift the empty bar at the beginning of the week [of competition in Gold Coast]. Even on the bus here [to the competition venue in Gold Coast] I was thinking to myself I'm going to go and say hello to everyone and have a wave on the platform but I probably won't be putting any weight on the bar. So I'm actually shocked [to have won a medal]. I'm really quite proud of this medal. It just shows I can do it when I need to. I'm made of tough stuff, I guess." (theguardian.com, 07 Apr 2018; telegraph.co.uk, 07 Apr 2018)

FUNDING CUTS AND RETURN TO STUDIES
Throughout her career she has dealt with several funding cuts. Her funding was first withdrawn in 2010 due to concerns about her performance, before being restored in 2011. In 2013 she almost gave up the sport due to a combination of injury and GB Weightlifting losing its UK Sport funding, but after taking up coaching she decided to continue competing when funding was reinstated in early 2014. In 2016 UK Sport cut funding for weightlifting again, which resulted in her working in a cafe to fund her training. By 2018 she was working part-time in a tea shop after returning to school to complete her A-Levels. "[In 2017] I was working in London, in a cafe, waking up at 05:00 commuting for an hour into town, working a 10-hour shift all day, then commuting home and then train at night. It's interesting how differently people treat you when you're the barista as opposed to the weightlifting Olympian. The good thing is I love coffee. It's always been about my love of weightlifting. I'm going to carry on doing that with funding or not. I'm 23 [in 2018] and doing my A-levels, which is a bit weird. I'm trying to juggle a lot of things at the moment." (independent.co.uk, 24 Aug 2018; telegraph.co.uk, 07 Apr 2018; bbc.co.uk, 12 Jul 2017; bbc.co.uk, 02 Apr 2014; skysports.com, 28 Oct 2011; bbc.co.uk, 22 Feb 2011)

CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN FOR TOKYO 2020
Following the loss of UK Sport funding for weightlifting, she established a crowdfunding page to raise money to help fund her quest to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. "I earn pretty much just above minimum wage working at a bubble tea cafe, so I don't have any money to put aside for a world championship fund. According to British Weightlifting's calculations it is likely to cost 10,000 GBP per athlete in total. Obviously, this is a huge amount for somebody who receives no funding and I'm unlikely to be able to achieve this goal by scrimping and saving alone - especially alongside full-time college, part-time work and trying to train for the Olympics. If I'm fortunate enough to raise more than the 10,000 GBP I'm targeting, the additional money will go back into the pot to help my teammates afford their own Olympic journeys." (independent.co.uk, 24 Aug 2018; gofundme.com, 31 Jul 2018)

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