Sophie Hitchon aims to reach her first World Athletics Championships hammer final tomorrow morning.
The 2014 Commonwealth bronze medalist and 2012 Olympic finalist lines up in the Beijing National Stadium – more commonly referred to as the Bird’s Nest at 2-30 a.m., BST, in qualifying, with the 12 best performers making Thursday’s final at noon.
Hitchon goes into the competition as a genuine medal contender, having enjoyed a superb season to date.
Two weeks ago, she threw her second-best career throw to date of 72.23m to finish third in Szczecin.
In Poland, she was in consistent form, throwing 70.51m, a no-throw, 71.97m, 72.23m, 72.10m and 69.69 – up against a world-class field, including world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk, who won with a best of 76.20m, with Germany’s Betty Heidler, the former world record holder, second with 73.37m.
Hitchon’s career best is the British record of 72.97m achieved at the European Athletics Team Championships in Gateshead in June 2013.
So far this season she has beaten the World and Olympic qualifying standard, of 70m and 71m respectively, again and again, hitting 71.89 in finishing fifth in Cheboksary, Russia in the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in June, and 71.10m to win the Sainsbury’s British Championships in Birmingham in July.
Her distance of 71.02m won the Loughborough International in May, and she also beat the 70m barrier, reaching 70.19m at Székesfehérvár, Hungary in July.
Also this season, she has registered 69.80m at Bottnaryd, Sweden in June, 69.45m in Kawasaki, Japan at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix, 69.20m in Palo Alto, California, and 68.41m in Halle, Germany, all in May in her first events of the season.
Hitchon’s first goal is to finish in the top 12 tomorrow morning: “The final is definitely the target, I want to get to the final for the first time at the Worlds, and improve on my last two appearances.
“Consistency is the main thing, and trying to push my personal best further. I’ll see how things go.”