Zoe has been at Suffolk Spartans since it first started in January 2007 and has literally gone from strength to strength in that time. An avid follower of football you’ll soon realise she watches anyone and everyone, well almost. Zoe is keen on a great number of sports and is keen to catch wrestling with WWE when she gets the chance. Previously a student at East Bergholt High School this local girl has gone from sports enthusiast to professional athlete.
Zoe only took part in one local competition in 2007 and in this was able to lift almost her own bodyweight but not quite. In 2008 she took to Paralympic Competitions this first being Cardiff in the January and her she showed an improvement managing to lift 47.5kg weighing in at just 41kg but this was only enough to get her second place in the competition. She continued to improve through the year and at the Dwarf games in May secured a 60kg lift which she equalled at the British Finals in June and took her to British Champion and an award for most improved or promising female. Her first taste of International competition came in the summer with a trip to France in June and then America in July where she managed a personal best lift of 62.5kg and this gave her first place in the IWAS World Junior Games. The year finished with a national accolade when Zoe was named as most promising newcomer at Wheelpower’s National Awards.
2009 got off to a serious start as Zoe now dropped into the under 40kg class and in Cardiff finished with 70kg and this year a first place finish. The summer continued well with 75kg in both the British Finals and the World Dwarf Games and first places in both competitions. In November there was a trip to Bangalore, India to compete in the IWAS World Games but this time Zoe had to settle for 2nd place in both the junior and senior competitions with a final lift of 80kg.
Back in Cardiff at the start of 2010 Zoe was back to her winning ways with a lift of 80kg, 1st place and best female award. At the British Finals in June she was able to extend this to 85kg and once again secured best female award as well but the first half of this year also saw Zoe take the European Junior Record. In July Zoe was asked to compete at the IPC Powerlifting World Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She finished with an impressive 82.5kg just over twice her own bodyweight and this was enough to secure 1st place in the junior competition and 4th place in the senior competition. In October as the World Junior Champion Zoe took to the stage in the Commonwealth Games and here she had to compete against all weight categories on a formula basis, she was unlucky to only get 4th place with a final lift of 85kg.
2011 was just as successful with a start in Cardiff and a lift of 82.5kg securing both 1st place in the junior and senior competitions. In April a trip to Dubai saw Zoe take 1st place at the IWAS World Junior Games and this was followed up by a 1st place at the British Finals in June along with a best lifter award and increasing the European Junior Record, if only by 0.5kg. The rest of the year was spent on training as 2010 had involved so much travelling and the competition for places at London would be fiercely competitive.
The time spent training had paid off and Zoe wen to Cardiff in January 2012 and finished with 88kg and again secured 1st place, extended her European Junior Record and more importantly pushed herself back into 5th place in the World. When the end of the qualification period is just over a month away and only the top 6 athletes are guaranteed a place in London this was incredibly important. The last competition of the qualification campaign was in Dubai in February and Zoe attended to ensure her place at London was still secure. She needn’t have worried as a top 6 position was still hers and this meant a competition in London now awaited. The British finals in June gave Zoe a last competitive action ahead of London and she finished with a respectable 85kg on the day but attention has now turned to London in a couple of months as she prepares for the biggest competition a home Paralympics.
London 2012 has been amazing for the country as a whole but all the Suffolk Spartans travelled to watch Zoe perform at the Excel Arena along with many other supporters from East Bergholt. One the day she was understandably nervous but held it together and with the support from everyone finished with a lift of 88kg. While this was below expectations based on her recent training sessions it was enough to secure her a bronze medal much to the delight of all the crowd and especially everyone from Suffolk Spartans.
Zoe returned to the lifting platform in January 2013 to the snow covered sports centre in Folkestone. She finished with a lift of 91kg, set a new British record and spent much of the day showing off her bronze medal from London 2012. The British Championships in June followed a similar pattern and she walked away with a lift of 92kg and November saw her take 93kg as a new personal best in a 4th attempt.
2014 started with the Folkestone competition in February and Zoe performed well securing as usual a personal best as she had now dropped a weight class. Zoe was all set and travelled to the World IPC Championships in Dubai and while nervous was keen to take to the stage where she had secured a junior gold medal in the last World Championships in 2010. There was a change during classification that meant Zoe could no longer have her arms manipulated during the process and as a result she was unable to meet the classification criteria set by the IPC. Zoe was obviously very disappointed with this situation but had to accept the decision of the classifiers and remained in Dubai to support other members of the GB team. Zoe will need to take time and work with her physio and coaches to see if she is able to meet the classification rules as they are now before she is able to compete within IPC competitions again.
Considering what had taken place Zoe decided to take a break from any IPC competition and instead turned her attention to competing within the able bodied side of the sport through GBPF. Her first competition was the Spartans Bench Press Championships in July 2014 where she opened conseratively with 67.5kg but finished strong with 80kg. She has spent time practising the new rules and felt more confident at the British Classic Bench Press Championships in September where she finished on 90kg and in the process of winning both the junior and open classes set British records in both as well as equalling the World record. This has demonstrated a fantastic transition into this federation in just two competitions and bodes well for her future at an international level. In October Zoe entered the regional bench press championships and finished with 95kg (just 4kg heavier than the current world record) and represents a PB in any competition.
2015 started well with a trip to Horncastle for the GBPF Bench Press Championships and while Zoe missed out on securing the 95kg she did lift it up twice but in the end had to settle for her opening lift of 90kg and a 1st place in both the junior and senior competitions. With a change in the rule that saw Zoe de-classified within the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) she was now eligible once again for competition and therefore qualification for Paralympic Games. Zoe was required to compete in the BWL Autumn Competition and so on 3rd October she was back in IPC competition with a finish of 95kg. Later in the month Zoe was back in front of IPC referees after more than an 18 month break at the BWAD competition where Zoe managed a press of 90kg for a very comfortable lift. These performances meant that Zoe was able to secure herself a place with the GB squad to the European Championships in November.
At the Europeans and a first return to the international stage the year finished on a high for Zoe has she finished with a lift of 90kg after a shaky start and on the day 95kg proved just a little too much. This performance was enough to give Zoe a silver medal in the European section of the competition and a bronze in the open section of the competition. This has placed her 7th in the World rankings as competition for a place at Rio intensifies. In the last international before qualification for Rio closes Zoe travelled to Malaysia and in February 2016 she secured a lift of 95kg and this was sufficient to give her 6th place in the world rankings on the slimest of margins, body weight.