JUNIOR world powerlifting champion Tom Smith has set his sights on the Paris Paralympics ahead of supporting his teammates at this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham writes Alec McQuarrie.
Smith, 21, secured the -54kg junior world title in Tbilisi last year with a personal best of 130kg and training with a host of Team England athletes has given the Huntingdon star the motivation he needs to keep pushing for the French capital in 2024.
But this summer Smith, who is on the British Weightlifting World Class programme, will get the chance to see behind the scenes as part of the Team England Futures programme, which will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.
“I’m absolutely hoping to go to Paris 2024,” said Smith, speaking at a Team England Futures Immersion Camp in Loughborough, where athletes and support staff had the chance to meet each other, visit Kitting Out and experience workshop sessions on topics such as working with the media, mental wellbeing and anti-doping.
"I learned about the attention to detail and how personal it is."#TeamEnglandFutures athletes and support staff experienced Kitting Out for the first time as they attended an Immersion Camp looking ahead to the #Birmingham2022 Commonwealth Games!
▶️ https://t.co/z9DDCVNY4V pic.twitter.com/ONO5DI6I9E
— SportsAid (@TeamSportsAid) July 22, 2022
“I think the idea of going to a Paralympic Games with the experience I’ve got so far and the potential to gain more in the future, it’s something that’s always there to keep me motivated.
“I think it’s a real privilege to be selected for the Team England Futures programme, seeing teammates’ preparations for the Games in the flesh and seeing what they’re going through. It’s an unbelievable experience.
“I’m most looking forward to supporting my teammates, to see the preparations they’ve carried out and see them on an international platform.”
The Team England Futures programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.
Smith trains with Paralympians Louise Sugden, Olivia Broome and Micky Yule in St Ives, who will all be representing Team England in Birmingham.
And Smith says he always makes the most of the wealth of experience they possess, emulating their training principles to push himself to his limits.
He added: “They always say to me you get out what you put into a session.
“If you’re walking out of the session feeling like you’ve still got something left in, you then you haven’t trained hard enough.
“So make sure you’re putting in absolutely everything to get every rep or set done.
“My sporting hero is Micky Yule. Just for his attitude and determination with everything he does, and the willpower he has in all his training, as well as what comes with that like his rest, nutrition and recovery to get the most out of his training and be the best he can be.”
Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.