By Ben Baker
DUBBED Britain’s strongest schoolgirl more than two years ago, Greenwich’s Zoe Smith is looking to update that moniker in 2013 as she bids to wave goodbye to the youth ranks in style.
Smith picked up the nickname when she became the first female English weightlifter to win a Commonwealth Games medal following bronze in Delhi in 2010 aged just 16.
More than two years on and the success keeps rolling in for the Europa weightlifter as she set a new British clean and jerk lift record of 121kg at the London 2012 Olympics.
At 18 and, with those two major international competitions under her belt, it is hard to believe Smith is still classed as a youth.
But this is all set to change this year as she makes the full-time step up to the seniors.
Smith has been handed the perfect chance for a fine send off after being called up for Team GB’s 120-strong squad heading to Sydney for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival this month.
And she insists she is looking to make the most of the opportunity Down Under before turning her attentions to her senior rivals.
“The Australian Youth Olympic Festival will be my first competition after the Olympics so I am a little bit nervous but I have been really training hard for it so I am looking forward to it,” said Smith.
“And competing and getting back on the platform and getting some decent weights on the bar again is something else I am looking forward to.
“This is youth competition done for me after this so I was born just about the right time to compete in Australia so hopefully at my last youth competition I can do well and wave goodbye to childhood.
“I am confident having competed at youth and Olympic level but at the same time like any other competition I want to go in there and do my best.
"It’s not necessarily about beating other people but doing the best you know you can.
“There is no rest for the wicked as they say.
“Every time you finish a competition it’s immediately looking forward to the next one and seeing how you can improve, so I am always setting new gaols and targets and hoping to improve in time for the big events.”
Despite writing her name into the record books at last summer’s Olympics, Smith admits that nerves got the better of her in the capital, something she is hoping to learn from Down Under.
“London 2012 was definitely the highlight of my life and career so far and I can learn from it,” she added.
“I didn’t have the best performance at the Games and going forwards I am hoping to better that and compete at further Olympics in the future.
“I definitely had more in the tank on the day and I think nerves and the fact I had to make the weight may have got to me and it is something I can learn from because I know I have to manage my nerves.”
The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games.
It works in partnership with sport national governing bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values.
For more information, visit olympics.org.uk
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