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Bigger and better – what the new Europa Centre means to me

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Zoe Smith

Seventeen-year-old weightlifter and Olympic hopeful

Seventeen-year-old weightlifter and Olympic hopeful Zoe Smith began her career with the Europa Gym Club, which was based on an industrial estate on the outskirts of East London. Thanks to funding from the Olympic Delivery Authority and Sport England, the club is getting a new state-of-the-art home, which officially opened this month.

A few weeks ago it was the official opening of the new Europa Gym Centre, in Bexley, East London, where I will be able to train as of September.
The whole event for the opening of the facility was great fun and I was really pleased to be a part of it. On the day I got to meet London Mayor Boris Johnson, which was cool. He was really nice and very friendly. As well as having important people like Boris and the Sports Minister Hugh Robinson in attendance, there were lots of displays from pupils of Europa, including boxing and gymnastics which was very impressive!

My involvement in the day included doing some TV interviews to talk about what Europa meant for me and to also represent the gym as an athlete who is hopefully going to the London 2012 Olympics.

I owe a lot to Europa – it was where I first got the opportunity to try weightlifting and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I will always be happy to promote what a benefit the centre is to local young people as it offers such a variety of sports for kids to try and it’s so great to see it expanding to a bigger and better location.

Focusing on Europe

As for me, my training is going really well. At the moment, I’m preparing for the European Championships, which will be held in Turkey next month, then after that it will be the UK Championships.
Both these events are really important as they are opportunities for me to hit the Olympic A qualification standard of lifting 196kg total. I need to hit this mark twice before the Games and I am confident I can do that.
As well as the two big competitions, I have several smaller events in mind which I might compete at but I have yet to finalise exactly which ones. For now, the focus is solely on the Europeans.

Find out more about weightlifting and the athletes hoping to represent GB this summer on the British Weightlifting website

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