By Mike Rowbottom

Zoe Smith_1_11_JuneJune 11 - Eighteen-year-old Zoe Smith is the youngest member of a five-strong Team GB weightlifting squad named today for London 2012.

Smith (pictured top), who will compete in the women's 58kg category, has broken youth, junior and senior records since taking up the sport aged 13.

However, the Londoner briefly lost her National Lottery funding as officials questioned her commitment before returning to the fold and claiming a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games aged just 16.

"I'm elated to have been selected for the team," said Smith.

"It has been a nerve-wracking period ahead of selection, so I'm glad that I've now secured my place and can definitely say I'll be representing Team GB at the Games."

Natasha Perdue, who will compete in the women's 69kg category, is following in the footsteps of her father, Terry, who represented Britain in weightlifting at the 1968 Mexico Games and 1972 Munich Games, finishing 10th on each occasion.

Perdue, born in Swansea, was a former national karate champion before switching to weightlifting.

She has had to combine a full-time training regime with her day job at the refuse department of Leeds City Council in the build-up to the Games.

"I can't describe in words how happy I feel and I keep pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming," Perdue added.

"I waited two weeks for the call, and when it came I didn't want to answer it in case it was bad news.

"I asked them to repeat it about three times just to make sure!"

Gareth Evans_11_June
Gareth Evans (pictured), also from Wales, will compete in the men's 69kg.

He gave up his job as a painter and decorator in Holyhead to pursue his Olympic dream and train full time at the Weightlifting Performance Centre in Leeds.

Although he will be competing in his first Olympic Games, Evans has experience of performing on the international stage after finishing third at the Commonwealth Championships in South Africa last year.

"I'm ecstatic," he said.

"It is testament to the sacrifice I have made and the hard work I have put in over the years.

"I would just like to thank everyone who has supported me so far."

Peter Kirkbride, who won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, and Jack Oliver, who has been weightlifting since the age of 14, complete the weightlifting squad.

Britain has won only seven medals in Olympic weightlifting, the last of which was at Los Angeles in 1984 when David Mercer took a bronze in the 90kg category.

The only gold came in the first-ever Moderen Olympics at Athens in 1896 Launceston Elliot won the now discontinued one hand lift.

Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: "This is the largest weightlifting squad we have assembled for an Olympic Games since Barcelona 1992 and it possesses a good balance of youth and experience.

"The dedication and commitment demonstrated by the athletes to their sport has been fantastic, whether it be Gareth Evans quitting his job and moving to Leeds to train full time, or Natasha Perdue switching from karate to weightlifting.

"The youngest member of the team, Zoe Smith, has already achieved a number of records in her short career, and will be aiming to deliver another exciting performance."

Team GB Weightlifting head coach Tamas Feher commented: "I am convinced we will participate at London with our strongest and best prepared team."

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