Commonwealth Games 2014: Zoe Smith beats pressure to seize weightlifting gold

After struggling with her weight the Londoner restored her energy by bingeing on chocolate


Zoe Smith celebrated her Commonwealth Games weightlifting gold medal with a back-flip before revealing how her dramatic victory in the women's 58kg division had been fuelled by a last-minute chocolate binge.

The 20-year-old Londoner lifted 118kg with her third and final lift in the clean and jerk to set a Commonwealth Games record total of 210kg, which was enough to see off the challenge from Nigeria's Ndidi Winifred. Michaela Breeze, the Welsh veteran, took the bronze.

Smith's excited celebrations signalled a release of the pressures of expectation which have been building up since she marked her major Games debut in Delhi four years ago by winning a bronze medal at the age of only 16.

But Smith's path to gold was anything but plain sailing after she was left battling desperately to make the weight for competition after arriving in the Athletes' Village earlier in the week.

Smith said: "I had a bit of a scare a couple of days ago because I still had a good two and a half kilos to come down, so I cut out the carbs and I didn't drink for the majority of yesterday.

"I was suffering a little bit so post-weight [weigh in] that first bite of chocolate was the best thing I've ever tasted. There was chocolate everywhere – I'm surprised I managed to waddle out on to the platform, my belly was so big."

Smith's late panic in some ways sum up her progress towards the top of the senior ranks, having temporarily had her funding withdrawn by her own governing body after her Delhi success and struggling after London 2012 with a back injury.

"This has been a long time coming – I've had a thousand conversations and thoughts about the Commonwealth Games and now I'm glad the gold is hanging round my neck," Smith said. "I knew I was able to do it but getting it on the day was another thing and having it over my head and getting the sound signal was the biggest wave of relief I've ever felt."

Breeze, the former two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, looked likely to present the biggest threat to Smith after reversing her decision to retire so that she could give it one last shot at the age of 35.

Breeze led after the snatch portion of the competition with a Games record lift of 93kg, one better than Smith with Winifred third on 90kg after failing on a clean-looking attempt at 95kg only via a majority judges' decision.

Breeze came in early in Smith's favoured clean-and-jerk part of the event, lifting 108kg and following up with 109kg – a lift she described as "a complete balls-up" having run out of time to make a heavier entry.

Forced to increase to 113kg for her final lift to stand any chance of overhauling Smith, Breeze missed out, leaving Smith to go clear at 115kg and 118kg to complete her victory.

Breeze was satisfied with her performance, saying: "My sole intention when I started playing around again last year was to try and motivate and push my athletes to qualify themselves. There were times I looked back and thought 'I can't do it again – I'm 35 now' and Zoe wasn't even born when I started."

Smith is convinced she can use her gold medal as a platform as she looks ahead to the Olympics in 2016. "I want to be a contender in Rio – I want to be in the running," Smith said. "I need to give it more work yet because a 210 total isn't going to win me a medal there but I think I've got what it takes to keep going.

"I've been through an emotional rollercoaster and it amazes me when people call me an inspiration. To me I'm still just the 12 year old girl who walked into a gym eight years ago because she wasn't very good at gymnastics."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate / Junior C# Developer

£18000 - £25000 Per Annum + bonus and benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

IT Project manager - Web E-commerce

£65000 Per Annum Benefits + bonus: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: If you are...

Teaching Assistant - Shropshire

Negotiable: Randstad Education Chester: Teaching Assistants needed in Shropshi...

Junior/Trainee Buiness Intelligence (BI) Consultant

£30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior/Trainee Business Intelligen...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits