Smith takes gold for England

  • Last Updated: July 26 2014, 19:22 BST

Zoe Smith got the better of Welsh veteran Michaela Breeze to claim gold in the women's 58kg weightlifting in Glasgow.

England's Zoe Smith lifts 92kg in the snatch element
England's Zoe Smith lifts 92kg in the snatch element

Zoe Smith celebrated her Commonwealth Games weightlifting gold medal with a back-flip before revealing how her dramatic victory in the women's 58kg division had been fuelled by a last-minute chocolate binge.

The 20-year-old Londoner lifted 118kgs with her third and final lift in the clean and jerk to set a new Commonwealth Games record total of 210kg, enough to see off Nigeria's Ndidi Winifred with Welsh veteran Michaela Breeze taking bronze.

Smith's excited celebrations signalled a release of the pressures of expectation which have been building up since she marked her major Games debut in Delhi four years ago by winning a bronze medal at the age of just 16.

But Smith's path to gold was anything but plain sailing as she was left battling desperately to make the weight for competition after arriving in the Athletes' Village earlier in the week.

Smith said: "I had a bit of a scare a couple of days ago because I still had a good two and a half kilos to come down so I cut out the carbs and I didn't drink for the majority of yesterday.

"I was suffering a little bit so post-weight that first bite of chocolate was the best thing I've ever tasted. There was chocolate everywhere - I'm surprised I managed to waddle out onto the platform actually, my belly was so big."

Smith's late panic in some ways sum up her progress towards the top of the senior ranks, having temporarily had her funding withdrawn by her own governing body after her Delhi success, and also struggling after London 2012 with a persistent back injury.

Smith added: "This has been a long time coming - I've had a thousand conversations and thoughts about the Commonwealth Games and now I'm glad the gold is hanging round my neck.

"I knew I was able to do it but getting it on the day was another thing and having it over my head and getting the sound signal was just the biggest wave of relief I've ever felt."

Former two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Breeze looked set to present the biggest threat to Smith after reversing her retirement decision to give it one last shot at the age of 35.

Breeze led after the snatch portion of the competition with a new Games record lift of 93kg, one better than Smith with Winifred third on 90kg after failing on a clean-looking attempt at 95kg only via a majority judges' decision.

Breeze came in early in Smith's favoured clean-and-jerk part of the event, lifting 108kg and following up with 109kg - a lift she described as "a complete balls-up" having run out of time to upgrade to a heavier entry.

Forced to increase to 113kg for her final lift to stand any chance of overhauling Smith, an apologetic Breeze missed out, leaving Smith to go clear at 115kg and finally 118kg to complete her victory.

An emotional Breeze expressed satisfaction with her performance, saying: "It's been one heck of a comeback - I never for one minute thought I'd be back competing.

"My sole intention when I started playing around again last year was to try and motivate and push my athletes to qualify themselves.

"There were times I looked back and thought 'I can't do it again - I'm 35 now' and Zoe wasn't even born when I started."

While Breeze heads off into a deserved and presumably permanent retirement, Smith is convinced she can use her Glasgow gold medal as a platform to spring into the next phase of career with an eye on the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"I want to be a contender in Rio - I want to be in the running," said Smith.

"I need to give it more work yet because a 210 total isn't going to win me a medal there but I think I've got what it takes to get my butt in gear and keep going.

"I've been through an emotional rollercoaster and it amazes me when people call me an inspiration. To me I'm still just the 12 year old girl who walked into a gym eight years ago because she wasn't very good at gymnastics."