Classification change sees Zoe robbed of Commonwealth spot

HAPPIER TIMES: Suffolk powerlifter Zoe Newson on her way to a Paralympic bronze medal in London in 2012
HAPPIER TIMES: Suffolk powerlifter Zoe Newson on her way to a Paralympic bronze medal in London in 2012
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Powerlifter Zoe Newson has spoken of her heartbreak on missing out on a spot at the 
Commonwealth Games after being declassified.

The sister of Needham Market Football Club striker Sam Newson, who was a bronze medallist at the London 2012 Paralympics, has had her Glasgow 2014 dream shattered and her international career left hanging on an appeal after a sudden change in the way the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) measure legitimate lifts.

The new methods concerning arms locking out caused a bombshell after athletes only found out when turning up in Dubai to compete at the World IPC Championships in April.

It resulted in the goalposts being moved so achondroplasia dwarfs like East Bergholt-based Newson found they could not physically get within the maximum 20 degree angle of elbow extension allowed, when under the previous way of measuring it they had been able to.

“I was devastated as it was the World Championships as well,” she said, ahead of taking part in the Queen’s Baton Relay in Ipswich on Monday. “It was the first day we got in there and when you find out you cannot lift, suddenly all your training you’ve worked so hard to do means nothing.”

The 22-year-old Suffolk Spartans member competes in the under-45kg category and had lifted a new personal best of 93kg in January, to put her well inside the qualifying mark to clinch a spot in last Friday’s Commonwealth Games team announcement.

“I am still training and I know that I may never get back but there is that slim chance and I just have to see what happens,” said Newson.

British Weightlifting’s performance director Tommy Yule said they were waiting to hear back from the IPC after launching an appeal.

“In this situation it is very unclear to us why they have changed how they measure this angle,” he said. “The fact no-one knew prior to the World Championships came as a big shock, not just to the athletes, but to us as well.”

The IPC was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.