Weightlifter Zoe Smith leads GB at 2013 Australian Youth Olympics

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Some 120 British athletes at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney

Commonwealth bronze medallist and London 2012 weightlifter Zoe Smith is headlining a 120-strong GB team at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

The biennial tournament, starting on Wednesday, is a legacy of the Sydney 2000 Gamesexternal-link and aims to give young athletes experience of large events.

Previous festivals have been attended by London Olympic medallists Tom Daley, Kat Copeland and Jonny Brownlee.

"Ideally I would want a medal but it won't be easy," the 18-year-old said.

"China are here, which will make competition more difficult and there are some strong junior lifters in the world."

At London 2012, Smith competed in the women's 58kg weightlifting and broke the British clean and jerk record on her way to second place in Group B. She was 12th overall, with gold going to China's Li Xueying who claimed a new Olympic record with a combined total of 246kg.

Smith, who won Commonwealth bronze in 2010 in Delhi, admitted being one of the older members of the British team in Sydney was a very different experience for her.

"I'm always one of the youngest at all of my competitions so it's a bit surreal being the senior," she said of the event, which sees competitors aged 12 to 20.

"Some of the other athletes asking for photos with me - it's very different, but I'm happy sharing my experiences of London 2012 with them."

Golf will be included in the Olympics for the first time come the 2016 Rio Games and, in preparation, there is a youthful British line-up at the festival, which includes European junior number one Georgia Hall.

"It is a real honour to be one of the very first golfers to represent Team GB," said 16-year-old Hall, who will be the team's flag-bearer during Wednesday's opening ceremony.

Weightlifter Zoe Smith on 'rollercoaster' 18 months

"When golf was added to the sport programme for Rio I was really excited as it has always been my dream to compete at an Olympics."

Hall continued that her "main goal" in Sydney would be winning gold, but added: "I want to learn from other athletes because golf is an individual sport and it can be a bit lonely so I'm looking forward to being part of a team".

From the two previous visits to the festival, in 2007 and 2009, 35 British athletes from 12 sport disciplines have graduated to become Olympians, 17 of whom went on to win Olympic medals.

"The AYOF will play an important role in introducing these athletes to an environment reminiscent of the Olympic Games," said Team GB chef de mission Mark England.external-link

"They will also have the opportunity to develop their understanding of the Olympic ideals and I'm confident it will help them bridge the gap between youth and senior international representation."

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