By Royal Appointment – Zoe Smith

As a potential member of Team England for next year’s Commonwealth Games I had been invited by my governing body to take part in a weightlifting exhibition which was taking place today at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham as part of the “Queen’s Baton Relay”.  (In the year before a Commonwealth Games the Queen’s Baton makes a tour of Commonwealth countries, including England).

Although I’d said I really wanted to do this, especially as it meant I’d get a chance to meet up with 2 of my GB team mates (Hannah Powell and Ben Watson), my coach declined on my behalf as he was concerned that the unnecessary travelling wouldn’t be good preparation for this coming weekend’s competition in Sweden.  To say I was disappointed would be something of an understatement!

But as one door closes so another opens and I received an invitation for today via my local Council, Greenwich, to visit the Olympic Park where I would meet a VIP whose name couldn’t be disclosed to me.  There was a hint that the VIP would be a member of the Royal family and I guessed it might be Princess Anne because of her Olympic connections.

I had to make my own way from home to the Olympic Park which meant looking the journey up on the internet (where would we be without the internet and Googlemaps?!)  As usual my mum “helped” with my travel plans which actually meant that I arrived about 45 minutes too early – I think she factors in every conceivable problem that I might encounter but, of course, I encountered none and at least I know now how quick and easy it will be to get to the Olympic Stadium in 2012 !

After some waiting I was met and taken inside. There was quite a bit of waiting around before any members of the Royal family arrived, but after a while a few other athletes turned up so again I had fun socialising with more young people like myself. At this point I still had no idea who I was going to be meeting, so when somebody told me that it was going to be THE QUEEN I was absolutely shocked. What a once in a lifetime chance!

When she arrived, everyone in the room suddenly fell silent and you could actually feel the suspense, I could tell it was going to be an experience I wouldn’t be forgetting any time soon. I actually got to shake her hand, which was then later featured on the BBC News – which I discovered when I got a text from my friend in Manchester alerting me!

All in all, quite a day to remember!


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