An emotional and proud Zoe Smith revealed she is not yet ready to say goodbye to weightlifting after narrowly missing out on a fourth consecutive Commonwealth Games medal.
Abbey Wood’s Smith, 28, was the first English woman to win a Commonwealth weightlifting medal when she took bronze at Delhi 2010.
And despite racking up 210kg here with an 88kg snatch and 122kg clean and jerk, Smith finished fourth in the women’s 64kg, missing the podium by just two kilos.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games champion took silver on the Gold Coast four years ago but was let down by her snatch this time around after failing two attempts at 91kg with only Canada’s runaway champion Maude Charron cleaning more than Smith in the second discipline.
“The strength in my legs is still coming back after a disastrous last year. I’m proud of myself, it’s obviously not the performance of a lifetime but for me I’ll take that today,” said Smith, who is one of over 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
“I knew that snatch has not been going really well since last year. The most I’ve lifted in the gym is 90kg in the last 12 months or more.
“I knew it was always going to be a bit of a task today. I think until last week the most I’d cleaned and jerked was 118 so another four kilos on top of that is okay.
“To be honest, I think I’ve got a lot to be proud of today.”
Smith is one of just two England weightlifters in Birmingham that have previous experience of competing at a home Games having come 12th when representing Team GB at London 2012.
The other, Jack Oliver, hung up his lifting shoes after a sixth-place finish yesterday and sole survivor Smith admits she now feels like a privileged veteran after soaking in the barmy Birmingham atmosphere.
Smith, who would have won bronze if she had succeeded with her final clean attempt of 125kg, added: “I love home crowds, the last time I got to do this was London 2012. That feels like a long time ago now and I guess it is.
“But there’s something really to be said about the home advantage. I just so wish I could have delivered on that last little bit and really got them going but you know what, it’s all good.
“I’m starting to feel a bit like Old Father Time on this team. It’s a surreal feeling actually as most athletes don’t get to do one home Games let alone two.
“I feel really honoured and privileged to be able to be one of those few athletes. Thank you so much to everyone who came out today, I really appreciate the support.
“I came into this competition thinking this might be my last Games and I actually feel quite emotional about it but you might see me in another four years.”
While Victoria 2026 may still be in her sights, Smith faces a conundrum over Paris 2024 with her current weight category not making the Olympic programme.
But there is plenty of fuel still left in her tank and Smith will begin the process of reaching a third Olympic Games by travelling to Columbia for the world championships later this year, the first qualifying event of the cycle.
Smith added: “I’ve got some decisions to make really and probably after a bit of a break some hard training to do.
“Weightlifting has been my existence since I was 12, so you can forgive me if I’m that athlete held together by duct tape and the power of prayer.
“It has been such a big part of my life since I was a little girl and I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to it yet. The joy it brings me to do an event like this is just so exciting.”
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