Zoe Smith loses funding grant from British Weight Lifting for being 'overweight'

British Weight Lifting have been branded ‘mindless’ for temporarily suspending the funding of 16-year-old Zoe Smith, the first British woman to win a Commonwealth medal in the sport.

The governing body have withdrawn personal funding until at least the end of January after questioning Smith’s commitment by saying she arrived at a recent training camp ‘overweight and with no training programme’.

Smith, who won a bronze medal in Delhi and came in the top three of the BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday, will appeal the decision.

She said: ‘I am obviously gutted to feel that I do not have the support of my governing body after everything that I have achieved this year.

Funding cut: Smith

Funding cut: Smith

‘I am a 16-year-old girl and have to balance the pressures of school and my life away from weightlifting with training and competition.

‘I will just carry on working hard as I always have to prove to them (the governing body) that you just can’t have the success that I have had through talent alone.’

Her agent, Gab Stone, added: ‘It’s mindless. Zoe’s a 16-year-old who has made history and has set 317 world records. As far as we are concerned, funding is based on performance. It’s farcical.

‘It’s not about the money — we’re only talking about £500. That’s not the point. But they (British Weightlifting) need to help her with all the challenges she faces because she’s only 16. Her support group — by which I mean me, her mum (Niki), her school and the governing body — have a duty of care to support her.

2012 hope: Smith won bronze in this year's Commonwealth Games

2012 hope: Smith won bronze in this year's Commonwealth Games

‘Her school (Townley Grammar School for Girls in Bexleyheath, Kent), for example, have raised concern that she’s falling behind because she missed three weeks to go to Delhi, but they have been really supportive. They’ve asked for a meeting to help manage the situation, rather than just suspending her.

‘If a 16-year-old doesn’t get the support she needs, she could just say: “Well screw it then”. Why does she need the hassle?

‘I think Zoe is aware of where she needs to put more effort in and she’s got a surprisingly mature approach to this. She’s aware that she’s got various challenges. She just wants to get on with working hard.

‘It’s also a delicate situation making such a thing of a 16-year-old’s weight. I know it’s a demand of her sport but it’s a very sensitive issue.’

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