Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Golden Promise the Standard's Young Athletes to Watch as London's Three-Year Countdown Begins

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Golden Promise the Standard's Young Athletes to Watch as London's Three-Year Countdown Begins

Article excerpt

ZOE SMITH, 15 Weightlifting The schoolgirl from Abbey Wood, pictured below, has been tipped as a potential star for the London Olympics after being named as a British Olympic Association Athlete of the Year for 2008.

Zoe, who is 5ft 2in and weighs nine stone, won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India after she managed to lift 95kg in one "clean and jerk" event, in which the athlete lifts the weight in a squatting position then quickly stands and straightens their knees to push it above their head.

She also set a world record for her age and bodyweight by lifting a total of 159kg in three events and broke 98 British records last year. The one-time gymnast -- who took up weightlifting when she was 12 after coaches identified her strength -- will still be one of the youngest competitors in her sport in three years.

Zoe, who is studying for her GCSEs at Townley Grammar School in Bexleyheath, said: "I am realistic enough to know that if I do get the chance to compete that making it on to the podium is quite unlikely. I will only be 18 and am likely to be one of the youngest competitors -- the others could be at least 10 years older than me and at the peak of their careers.

"It may be in Olympics to come that I get my chance for glory and although it is going to be a long journey, it is one I am prepared to commit to."

MARILYN OKORO, 24 800m, 4x400m Relay Marilyn, right, started as a sprinter and is still a key member of the 4x400m relay, but she has eyes set on the 800m and the chance to emulate her hero, double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes.

She won the national UKA indoor 800m in 2007, got gold in the UKA outdoor 800m last year and aims to turn that national success into an international career.

"I train two to three times a day, six days a week, for a total of around five hours each day," said Marilyn, from Harlesden. "I went to the track for the first time at the age of 12 and it's my dream to win gold. I will be 27 by the time the Games come round and they say that is the prime age for 800m. …

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