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Jun 02, 2009

Britain's strongest girl: The 14-year-old who can lift twice her own body weight

Think of a weightlifter and the image that comes to mind is of a musclebound hulk with thighs like treetrunks.

Think again.

Petite 14-year-old Zoe Smith has staked her claim to be the strongest girl in Britain after lifting almost two-thirds more than her bodyweight.

The 5ft 2in schoolgirl, who weighs 9 stone, managed to hoist aloft an astonishing 95kg, or 15 stone, in one 'clean and jerk' event.

Zoe, from Abbey Wood, South- East London, was named one of the British Olympic Association's Athletes of the Year for 2008 after she took gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India.

She set a world record for her age and bodyweight by lifting a total of 159kg, or 25 stone, in three events.

Her astonishing power has seen her tipped as a star for the London Olympics in 2012.

Winning the BOA's Athlete of the Year award for her sport puts her in an elite group alongside Olympic champions such as Chris Hoy, the triple gold medal-winning cyclist.

'Seeing my name on a list as an equal alongside all the big names from last year's Olympics was unbelievable,' she said.

'At first I thought there might have been some mistake and was a bit nervous about telling anyone, so I was amazingly happy when it sunk in that it was true.'

Like many teenagers, Zoe has her own Bebo web page where she lists her likes (chocolates, staying up all night, international competitions) and dislikes (prawns, scary movies, losing).

She attends Townley Grammar School in Bexleyheath and is studying for GCSEs in maths, English, French, science, art and PE.

 

 

Power: Zoe set an astonishing 98 British weightlifting records last year

Power: Zoe set an astonishing 98 British weightlifting records last year

A former gymnast, Zoe started weightlifting at the age of 12 when she was asked to make up the numbers in a team. She said: 'From my first session, my coach Andy Callard said he could tell I had the natural talent and strength to do well.' He was right. Zoe set an amazing 98 British records in 2008.

Of her 2012 ambitions she said: 'Just being selected would be a dream come true and of course the ultimate aim for anyone would be to win the gold medal, me included.'

 

Future superstar? Zoe trains for eight hours a week, and is an Olympic hopeful

Future superstar? Zoe trains for eight hours a week, and is an Olympic hopeful

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