Cradling an injury right up until the morning of her lift on the Gold Coast, Team England weightlifter Zoe Smith was convinced she would have to withdraw from the competition, but instead recorded a total lift of 207kg to clinch an incredible silver medal in a stunning display of determination and tenacity.
The silver she picked up in Australia in April adds to Smith’s already-impressive Commonwealth collection, along with her gold clinched in Glasgow and the bronze she took on her Games debut in 2010. However, there was a point it didn’t look as if she was going to even make it to the venue.
“I got on the bus, took my painkillers and thought I just need to show my face, go through all the motions and then officially withdraw when I get there,” Smith explained, having only managed slight training routines in the days prior.
“I picked up the bar and was having a play around with it to see where I was at and it actually felt okay,” the 24-year-old explained. “It felt a lot better than it had done all week so I just went with it, and came away away with a medal.”
Although her struggles with injury over the past year have been plentiful, Smith believes she’s finally fit again and ready to lift heavier at the upcoming World Weightlifting Championships in November.
The Greenwich-born athlete underwent successful shoulder surgery last year, and prior to that had to withdraw from the 2016 Rio Olympics squad due to a recurring injury, but Smith now believes she’s “back on the straight and narrow.”
“I know where I’m at physically, I know what I need to work on and it’s given me all the information I need to make an informed decision about my training and what I’m going to do leading up to the World Championships.”
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games approaching, Smith has cast her eyes on both this and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. While Smith and her camp wait to find out what changes the IOC will make to the weight categories, Smith herself would welcome a change.
“I’d rather a slight move down. I make 63kg fairly comfortably so I could probably stand to lose a kilo or two. It depends what they do, if it’s way far down then absolutely not.”
By 2022, Smith will be 28 years of age, but she hasn’t even considered retirement, more so what the future holds for her after Birmingham and whether she can continue competing. “I don’t really have anything immediate in mind to look at retiring, I’ll keep doing this as long as my body lets me.
“For the foreseeable future, absolutely I’d like to look at doing a home Games,” Smith added. “It’d be a nice, natural endpoint if it comes to it. I do plan on hanging on for a bit longer, you can’t get rid of me that easy.”