POWERLIFTING sensation Zoe Newson has admitted she feels like she is yet to wake up after realising her Paralympic dream.
The 20-year-old Suffolk Spartans member marked her Paralympic debut in glittering fashion last week by clinching a bronze medal on day one of the London 2012 Games.
In front of capacity crowd at the ExCeL Centre, Newson equalled her personal best of 88kg in the under-40kg class to claim a third place finish behind eventual winner Nazmiye Muslu of Turkey, who set a new world record of 109kg and China’s Zhe Cui, who lifted 97kg to take silver.
Newson opened up with a lift of 84kg, before failing with her first attempt at 88kg in the second round of lifts, despite a formal protest from her coaches.
The decision of a no-lift was upheld but the European junior record holder remained un-fazed and went on to successfully complete the same weight in her second attempt to guarantee her a medal.
Vietnam’s Thi Hong Nguyen also managed the same total, but Newson took the place on the podium due to her lower body weight, much to her surprise.
“I still couldn’t believe I had won the medal even after my third lift,” she said.
“Someone in the warm-up area told me that if the next competitor failed with her lift then I had won bronze but I didn’t believe it.
“Even when I saw it on the screen it didn’t sink in, so I asked my coach and he told me I had won the medal and I just broke into tears.
“I never thought in my first Games that I would win a Bronze medal, I’m really proud,
“Usually I’m so laid back whatever happens, but this means a lot to me.”
“I came to the Games just thinking about beating my personal best, I never go into any competition thinking I can win it and so I’m delighted with my bronze medal.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet, it all feels like a dream.”
The momentous occasion was made even more special for Newson with her whole family, including Needham Market marksman Sam, among the vociferous crowd. And Newson revealed they made a vital impact as she took the chance to pay tribute to those who had supported her.
“The crowd just pump you up so much, they get behind you and it really helps you getting stronger during the competition, it’s incredible how much they support you,” she added.
“It was extra special for me because usually not all my family don’t get a chance to see me competing but most of my family and friends were there, so it was awesome.”
“I want to thank everyone who has helped me over the years and allowed me to get this far, it really means a lot.”