Sophie isn’t resting on her laurels after Rio

Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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Sophie Hitchon isn’t resting on her laurels ahead of a big season.

The 25-year-old claimed bronze in the hammer at the Rio Olympics last August, setting a new British record of 74.54m in the process.

But, with a return to the Olympic Stadium – now the London Stadium – for the IAAF World Championships in August the target, Sophie admits she has to start the year from scratch with a clean slate.

While her profile has increased on the back of her heroics in Brazil, she has has parked that success, with her focus on continuing to improve: “I’ve had a bit of a break – it was nice to have that around Christmas, but I wanted to get back in training.

“I always feel like ‘that’s been and gone’.

“It’s about this year, you start each season with a clean slate, and I’m looking forward to competing.

“I still have a lot more training to do to fine tune stuff.

“I’m in a heavy phase of training and not really ready to compete for four to eight weeks, when we taper it down.”

She added: “Ultimately it is all about training, I still have to go out in the wind and rain.

“It’s about training and results, which won’t happen unless you knuckle down.

“That’s the way I think about it, other people might think about it differently, but with throwing, it can be there one day, and not the next.

“It doesn’t feel the same, and there’s no explanation.

“You just have to keep going, not stop for six months and then expect to throw what you were throwing.”

So while she was smashing her record on the biggest stage, there are no guarantees moving forward.

And there are no free passes for the Worlds, with a qualifying standard of 71m to hit by July 23rd: “We only have the one major championship this year – for the last few years we’ve had two, but London is the only one this year.

“Obviously there are other competitions, but it is all about qualifying to start with. We have to qualify every year – it’s not like I’m guaranteed a spot because of last year. You have to prove yourself again.

“The qualifying distance is the same as last year, so fingers crossed it won’t be difficult to achieve, but you never know.

“It’s about qualifying, and planning from there.”

One of Sophie’s biggest rivals, Germany’s Betty Heidler – 2007 World champion and former World record holder – has called it a day, but Poland’s Anita Włodarczyk, winner in Rio in a new World record, remains the one to beat: “Betty has retired, and some of the other girls have been in the sport a long time.

“But you never know who will come up through the ranks, there is always one.

“I can only really do what I can do, and focus on that really. It’s about being the best I can be.

“We’ll see what Anita does this year, she’s 31, and you get to a point where you can’t train as much as you could when you were younger.

“For me, it’s a case of taking it year by year, and keep going. I think I’ve got a while yet –hopefully I’ve got a good few years in me.”

Preparations are going well ahead of the season, with Sophie happy with the processes which helped win bronze: “We didn’t change a lot from last year in terms of training, things are starting to come together.

“I would like a little more consistency, and it is about trying to get that rhythm.

“If I can get close to last year, that will be great.

“There’s the European Team Championships in Lille and British Championships in Birmingham, but it’s all about qualifying for London.”