Hackney weightlifting champ makes Pope pledge

A 16-year-old student from Hackney was delighted at her ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to share a stage with the Pope

A HACKNEY schoolgirl and champion weightlifter was one of 27 students selected to make a “sporting pledge” to the Pope during his visit to the UK last week.

Kim Pham, who is a pupil at Cardinal Pole school in Kenworthy Road, Homerton, stood before an audience of 4,000 people and shared a stage with Pope Benedict XVI, who was launching a sporting foundation at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham on Friday.

The 16-year-old, of Wick Road, then lit a candle and recited her pledge as part of the ceremony, which was broadcast live to more than one million students in the UK.

Kim was chosen because she is the British weightlifting champion in her age group and goes to mass at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and St Dominic in Ballance Road, Homerton.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Kim, who has lifted a personal best of 55kg in the clean and jerk discipline, despite weighing only 52kg herself.

“I was one of the only people from London there. It was a great feeling to be in his presence and to know I’d been selected.”

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“I found out I would be going in July, but I didn’t know the details until last week,” added Kim.

“I had to learn the pledge off by heart and then say it on stage, with the Pope two metres away. I wasn’t nervous though. I felt blessed.”