Tokyo 2020: GB's Zoe Newson eyes third Paralympics after birth of son

It annoys me when people stare - Zoe Newson

British two-time Paralympic bronze medallist Zoe Newson says qualifying for Tokyo 2020 would "mean a lot" after thinking her powerlifting career was over when she unexpectedly fell pregnant.

The 27-year-old gave birth to son Duncan six weeks early in January 2019 as he had grown too big for her body, but she returned to competition less than six months later.

"Duncan wasn't planned. It was a shock when I found out I was pregnant," Newson told BBC Sport.

"I thought it was my career over, but luckily I've got back into it."

Newson, who has dwarfism, and partner Dan learned their son was a "normal size" in scans during pregnancy.

When Duncan was born, he spent a further six weeks in hospital with complications.

"He weighed about six pounds when he was born, and they said if I went full term, he would have been 10," says Newson, who won -40kg and -45kg bronze at London 2012 and Rio 2016 respectively.

"Despite how big he was, I didn't really put that much weight on, so it was easy to lose that bit of weight.

"When he was born, there was something wrong with his stomach, and then it was his oxygen levels, so it was mostly six weeks being a prisoner in hospital."

'It annoys me when people stare'

Newson said she had reservations as to how she would cope with being a mother, but now relishes it.

She trains at home, allowing her to balance her sport with parenthood, with her own parents on hand to help with babysitting duties.

"At the start, people thought I would struggle a bit. Even I did," she said. "But if I can't do something, I just find a different way. Nothing stops me from being a mum.

"I'm 4ft 2in, he's 2ft 9in, and his dad is 6ft 2in. It's not really looking good for me.

"I don't want to wish time away, but it will be funny when I take him to school and people ask him if I'm his sister.

"It annoys me when people stare. I don't mind if it's quick but it's when they properly stare. My partner doesn't like it.

"Duncan is going to grow up with that. My step-daughter saw someone staring at me, so she was staring at them back. She's only four but I thought that was quite nice of her."

Newson, who won European gold - her first major title - and Commonwealth bronze in 2018, will look to take a valuable step towards qualification for the Tokyo Paralympics at the Para-powerlifting World Cup in Manchester, which starts on Thursday.

She is one of a 15-strong British squad, which also includes Rio silver medallist Ali Jawad, and will lift in the -41kg category.

Newson, for whom 2020 would be her third Paralympics, said: "Tokyo is about proving I've got what it takes after getting back into it.

"As long as I try my best, I'll be happy. It will mean a lot. I want to prove to people you can have a baby and still carry on with sport."

Zoe Newson at the Rio Paralympics
Newson won -40kg and -45kg bronze at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympics respectively