The build-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow may have been ‘intense’, but was certainly worth it for Commonwealth weightlifting champion Zoe Smith.
The 21 year-old, who won Bronze at Delhi 2010 came away from Glasgow 2014 with not only the women’s 58kg gold medal, but memories of an unforgettable experience.
“Glasgow was amazing – I would love to be able to go back and do it all over again. It was the most fun I have ever had.
“The build-up had been very intense. I had been in a strong position leading up to it so there was a lot of pressure on me to win. I eventually did, and put in a great performance but I will always remember that moment, standing on the podium listening to Jerusalem.”
Smith, from Greenwich, London, joined Team England CEO Paul Blanchard on Friday 4th March to discuss the national anthem debate with a number of broadcast media outlets such as Sky and ITV. Recalling back to memories of Jerusalem at both the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games, Smith believes that England should have its own identified national anthem.
“I do think it’s really important to have an English national anthem, for Team England. Team Scotland and Wales both have their own anthems so it’s key that we have one that separates us from the British anthem of ‘God Save The Queen’.
“Competing for Team England is as prestigious as competing for Team GB – but in a completely different way, hence why it deserves its own anthem.”
And Smith is hoping to have the chance to represent Team GB later on this year at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“My first hope it to qualify – which I will find out about at the end of the European Championships in April.
“I would like a top eight finish in Rio. I came 12th in London and hopefully for my second Olympics it would be great to move up a few slots. I know people are expecting medals from me as I have been around for a while but I am still young for a weightlifter so I have a few more Olympics in me after Rio hopefully.”
Looking past Rio is the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where Smith is hoping to retain her title.
“I am really looking forward to Gold Coast 2018. What an amazing place to hold the Commonwealth Games.
The rivalry between us and Australia will be running high I imagine but there is a lot of pressure on us to deliver again having topped the medal charts at Glasgow. We are of course hoping to do the same again – I know I am aiming to retain my title and I am sure everyone else is.”
Zoe first represented Team England nearly 10 years ago when she was a member of the English team competing in Puni at the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games – an experience she claims was the major stepping stone for her career.
“I loved the Commonwealth Youth Games. It was my first international win ever and my first taste at a multi-sport event.
At the time it felt very important but looking back it is of course a youth championships and was mostly a great experience at that age. Going into the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi I felt that thanks to the Youth Games I had found my bearings and felt prepared.”
In 2017, the next generation of English athletes will be heading to the Bahamas for the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, and Zoe Smith offers her advice to the young athletes.
“They are very lucky, getting to go all the way to the Bahamas to compete as Team England. My one piece of crucial advice is…don’t forget your accreditation wherever you go! It is your lifeline in the village.”