Burnley hammer thrower aims for Olympic medal tonight

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HER smile lit up the Olympic Stadium.

And tonight, Burnley’s Sophie Hitchon will live out her dream in the final of the women’s hammer from 7-35pm.

The 21-year-old smashed her own British record with her third and final throw on Wednesday morning, before enduring a nervy wait to see if she had qualified for the Olympic final as one of the top 12.

Needing to pull out a big throw after a first-round attempt of 67.21m and a foul in the second round, the former Ivy Bank High School pupil showed nerves of steel to produce a superb throw of 71.98m in the final round, beating her previous GB record by 37cm.

That saw her finish fifth overall in Group A, and after Group B had concluded, she comfortably qualified for the final in 10th.

She beamed: “Everything went pretty much exactly how I wanted it to go.

“I was nervous warming up, but when I went out there, the crowd were amazing and I knew I had it in me to throw well. I put pressure on myself, but I knew I had a personal best in me, and I pulled it off.

“As soon as I let go, I knew it was good.

“You never know how far until you see the score, but it was amazing, and then I had to keep my fingers crossed I would go through after the second pool of girls.”

Having pulled off a personal best, Sophie left the rest to fate: “The wait wasn’t too bad - I didn’t mind if I made it into the final or not as I couldn’t do any more than throw a personal best, and if the other girls threw more than me, they deserved to go through. But to make the final was fantastic, it’s a dream come true.

“I never really thought about it or believed it, it was never in my mind I would be an Olympic finalist as it seemed a long way away, even two years ago it seemed out of my reach. Now I’m in the final.”

Going into the final, she believes she can better her performance so far: “We’ll see how I recover, but I hope to go further - I want to do my best every time I compete, to try to get a personal best.

“It would be great to break the 72m barrier, so we’ll wait and see, but I’m in the shape to throw really well, and hopefully I can emulate Wednesday.

“Now I’m in the final, to get in the top eight would be amazing, and if not, I’ll have done the best I can.”

Sophie’s proud mum Wendy Hitchon said: “The stadium and the crowd were absolutely awesome. The noise they made was incredible. When the British athletes were competing or even mentioned the crowd just erupted.

“Seeing Sophie competing was surreal. The result getting the national record has spurred her on to keep going.

“It will be a proud moment for the family seeing Sophie in the final. Everyone at home - grandparents, aunts and uncles - will be sat around tonight hoping Sophie performs like she did the other day.

“But whatever happens, the fact that she got into the final is a credit to the guts of the girl and hanging in there for that final throw. It was incredible.”