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Zoe Smith fights for her 2012 funding

GB weightlifter Zoe Smith
Zoe Smith won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi

By Amandeep Bhangu
BBC London News

Sixteen year-old weightlifter, Zoe Smith, has spoken about her fight to get her Olympic funding reinstated.

The Greenwich teenager won bronze at last year's Commonwealth Games and is a medal prospect for 2012.

I'm fighting to get my funding back because without it I'm worried it might impact my training and chances for 2012
Zoe Smith

But British Weight Lifting suspended her personal funding at the end of 2010.

It denies claims it accused her of being "overweight" and point out Zoe arrived at a training camp in December and failed to meet the correct body weight for her category as well as having fallen behind with her training programme.

Zoe said: "I think it's outrageous my funding's been withdrawn especially as 2010 was a fantastic year for me, getting a bronze in my first senior games.

"I'm fighting to get my funding back because, without it, I'm worried it might impact my training and chances for 2012.

"So I'm training hard, submitting regular training diaries and will try to prove through my performance at next month's weightlifting competition in Norway that I deserve a second chance."

Zoe Smith and Rachel Yankey
Zoe Smith with Rachel Yankey at the London Youth Games event

British Weight Lifting says it is reviewing her training and a decision is imminent about possibly reinstating her personal funding from February.

Youth sports funding

Zoe was speaking at an event for the London Youth Games which she has credited for introducing her to weightlifting.

It was announced, at City Hall, almost £50,000 of funding would be available for grassroots youth sport spread among 18 London borough projects. It would benefit up to around 3,500 disadvantaged young people in London.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said he fully supported the London Youth Games because it helps deliver the long-term legacy of getting more young people in competitive sport beyond the Olympics next year.

"A key test for the 2012 Games is ensuring a sporting legacy that will see increased participation at all levels and across all ages," he said.

Among those attending the event were Rachel Yankey, 100 times capped England ladies footballer, also an alumni of the London Youth Games along with England footballer Rio Ferdinand, Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu and Paralympic gold medallist David Weir.

Yankey will help launch the selection for the 2011 London Youth Games, following 2010's record breaking year with over 50,000 young Londoners taking part in Europe's largest annual youth sports event.

Boris Johnson
Mayor Boris Johnson endorsing funding for grass-roots youth sports

Disability sports

Some of the largest grants awarded by the London Youth Games Foundation this year are dedicated to promoting disability sports.

Grants of £5,000 each were pledged for a brand new Disability Athletics League in Greenwich, a new athletics initiative aimed at deprived districts in Redbridge and a new Paralympic Community Games competition in Barking and Dagenham.

Zoe Smith helped present some of the awards saying she was pleased to be involved having benefitted from the London Youth Games herself.

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