WHEN Zoe Newson found out she was pregnant, she admitted she thought her international powerlifting career was over.

Duncan, now aged two, was delivered by Caesarean section six weeks early because he had grown too big for Zoe’s body – taking after his father who measures 6ft 2ins.

Zoe, from East Bergholt, stands at just 4 ft 2 ins and was told if the pregnancy had been permitted to go full term Duncan would have been 10lbs.

Instead he was delivered early at 5lbs 13oz.

Zoe admitted she was shocked when she first found out she was pregnant.

She said: “When I first found out, I thought ‘This has ruined my career’ and thought ‘I would never do this again’, but luckily I had my family’s support.

“He was getting so big and because of me being a dwarf I couldn’t go full term.

“At the start with him I was in hospital for six weeks and thought I might struggle, but when we came out I had my partner, family and friends who supported me as well.”

But Zoe’s dedication to her training had to be put on hold.

She said: “I stopped training three to four months before I had Duncan and started to train again about three to four months after I had him.”

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Family - Zoe Newson with her fiance Dan Beeson and their son, Duncan

But her determination never left her and she set her sights on her third Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan, having scooped bronze medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

“Six months after he was born I had to go to Kazakhstan to try to qualify for Tokyo 2020,” added Zoe.

To date, Zoe, 29, has a clutch of titles and medals which show her extraordinary achievements at international level.

Read more >> Zoe Newson wins gold for Great Britain at the World Para Powerlifting World Cup

The youngest of four children, Zoe said she was “lucky” she was never bullied about her size at school.

“I had older friends and my brothers were a few years older than me and they were there when I was so that really helped.

“When they left I was worried about what was going to happen, but luckily I had friends in each year.”

In this summer’s Tokyo Paralympics, Zoe finished fourth for Great Britain in the women’s up to 41kg category after lifting 94 kgs - roughly twice her own bodyweight.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Treat - Zoe Newson attended the Homecoming celebration for Paralympians at Wembley last week

Due to Covid restrictions, Zoe was not allowed to take anyone to Tokyo with her except her British weightlifting coach, so son Duncan and fiancé Dan Beeson, remained at home on the other side of the world in East Bergholt.

“When I travelled to the venue, it was actually a really nice place and I wished I could have gone sightseeing.

“It was a shame, but all the workers were so friendly,” said Zoe.

She added: “I was away for 16 days, he [Duncan] came to say goodbye at the airport, I was crying my eyes out.

“Thankfully we could do a lot of Facetime.

“When they picked me up at the airport, Duncan saw me and came running towards me and I started crying and he started crying.

“I’ve had two weeks off and then start back training and competing again in November or early December for the world championships in Georgia - although that’s currently on the ‘red list’.”

If that situation continues, the Government Covid restrictions mean Zoe would have to quarantine in an English hotel for another ten days upon her return.

Zoe sets her own targets.

Despite her most recent sporting achievement, Zoe tweeted that she was “disappointed” with her lift at Tokyo adding “sorry for letting everyone down”.

Reflecting upon that tweet, Zoe said: “I think I was disappointed because training was going well, then a few weeks before I flew out I got an injury, so that came at the worst possible time.

“I suffered with jet lag and put pressure on myself so that’s why I felt disappointed and that I let people down.”

Others would certainly disagree, especially given the exceptional times of the Covid pandemic and its impact.

Zoe said: “When you are training you have got this competition to work to, but when Covid came, you felt like you were training for nothing, you didn’t have any competitions and couldn’t go to the gym.

“My parents live just up the road and they built a gym so I could train there.”

It was actually Zoe’s parents who told their daughter at 14 to try out powerlifting.

Zoe said: “My old coach was at my high school to do a talk about the Army as he was in it.

“I was playing badminton at lunchtime and he was looking round the school.

“He came over to me and said because of my height I would be good at it.

“I mentioned it to my mum and dad who persuaded me to give it a try and I actually enjoyed it.”

Zoe trained in the gym at the high school she attended in East Bergholt, with the Suffolk Spartans.

Just three years later Zoe was competing in the world championships in Kuala Lumpur, finishing first in the junior event.

This helped her qualify for the 2012 London Paralympics.

However, a change in classifications during 2014 meant Zoe was temporarily ruled out of the sport.

But in Zoe made her comeback in 2015 in Hungary with Rio 2016 following and her hiatus during 2019 during her pregnancy and birth of Duncan has given her a chance to reflect on everything around her.

There is no doubt Zoe has achieved so much in a relatively short space of time and with pressures many others would simply not cope with - physically and mentally.

Zoe would like Duncan to know what she has achieved yet her humble attitude comes across when she adds: “When he is a little bit older, I will explain to him and show him the internet and my medals and display what I have done and how I got there.”

For now Zoe is enjoying the best of both worlds - a sport she loves and being a mum.

“I get to travel the world with it and it’s something different,” Zoe said.