Olympic Games - Teen Olympian feels best is yet to come

Zoe Smith's sights may be firmly set on the Rio 2016 Olympics but the teenage weightlifter admits it could be a full decade before she really starts to hit her peak.

Weightlifting - Mixed emotions for Smith as she wins historic European bronze

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0728 - Zoe smith

The 18-year-old finished a creditable 12th in her first ever Games at London 2012, breaking the British clean and jerk record in the women's 58kg event in the process.

Smith shot to fame two years earlier however when she grabbed bronze in the 58kg category at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi as an unknown 16-year-old.

Since then Smith has had her ups and downs, a temporary cut in funding for being overweight at the back end of 2010 a particular low light.

But, with her first Olympic experience under her belt, Smith insists she cannot wait to get back to competitive action even if she admits her peak is years away.

"This year has just been spectacular, it's all gone so fast though," said Smith, speaking at the Aviva School Sport Matters Awards at Lord's Cricket Ground last week.

"The Olympics were this massive thing that we were all waiting for and all of a sudden it's been and gone, it's hard for me to put into words what the experience was like.

"I was gutted when it ended but Rio 2016 is obviously the next big target but between then there are World and European Championships next year that I want to do well in.

"There are also the Commonwealths in Glasgow in 2014, I would love to defend my bronze medal there and with friends and family to support me that would just be fantastic.

"What I really want though is an Olympic medal and I'm still quite young, especially for the sport of weightlifting."

The 58kg was dominated in the past by China's Chen Yanqing, who won gold at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 and still holds the world record for the snatch discipline and the total weight lifted in both snatch and clean and jerk.

Yanqing was 27 when she set those world records but had retired by the time London 2012 came around, leaving the door open to her compatriot Li Xueying to take gold.

And Smith is hoping that her time will come, although she admits it is unlikely to be challenging world records just yet.

"For my first Olympics, to come 12th was a great result," she added. "Maybe some people expected more of me but it was fantastic for me and I was so proud to be out there competing.

"It was a fantastic experience, to be up against the best in the world and to learn from being around them, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to improve and think 'OK so I have not made it quite yet'.

"But now I'm so hungry to be at that level one day. At the moment it really is about building on what I have already got at this young age.

"I have not been lifting for half as long as most of my competition and most people tend to get stronger towards their late 20s so I'm ten years away from my prime probably, I should have at least two more Olympics in me."

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