By Ben Baker

GREENWICH weightlifter Zoe Smith was the toast of Twickenham on Thursday as she added to her ever-increasing medal collection after being honoured for her sporting achievements in 2011 at the Aviva School Sport Matters awards.

Smith, 17, scooped the emale student of the year honour at a star-studded ceremony at the home of English rugby.

A host of Olympic and Paralympic legends past and present, including James Cracknell, Tim Brabants, Gail Emms, Duncan Goodhew and David Weir, were handing out the awards.

Conceived in 2004, School Sport Matters highlights exemplary practice in physical education and sport in schools across the country.

And while Smith is currently in Paris for the world championships until November 13, her mum Niki collected the award on her behalf and was positively beaming with pride at the result..

“Zoe so badly wanted to be here, but I guess the world championships in Paris are as good an excuse as they come, this is the big event for her this year,” she said.

“She would have loved to have been here with all these big names from the world of sport but hopefully it will all be worth it out in Paris.

“We’re so proud of what she has achieved, I certainly wouldn’t have been winning this award at her age.

“She’s a great girl who works hard and her school Townley Grammar School for Girls has always been very understanding.

“With London 2012 she’s going to put her schoolwork on hold and really go for what is a once in a lifetime opportunity but she’ll get back on it afterwards.”

Zoe’s mum Niki collected the award from 2004 Olympic silver medallist badminton star Emms.

And Emms, who also won mixed doubles gold at the 2006 world championships alongside Nathan Robertson, was quick to praise the performances of every student shortlisted.

“The School Sports Matters awards are a brilliant way for young people to gain recognition for the efforts they have put in, not only to school but also to sport in school too,” she said.

“All of the guys here deserve it.

“They are a great example of what young people can do and I hope this is just the start for them.

“These awards are such a great idea and I think more needs to be done to recognise the achievements of young people, and this is such a great day out for them all.”

The Aviva and Daily Telegraph School Sport Matters Awards recognise outstanding achievements in school sport across the country, and are part of Aviva’s wider commitment to support the next generation of British sporting talent.

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