Sophie is heading in the right direction ahead of Berlin

Share this article

She is ever the perfectionist, but Burnley’s Sophie Hitchon believes she is heading in the right direction after a fourth-successive British hammer title.

The 26-year-old threw a championship-best of 72.02m to win by 10 metres in Birmingham on Sunday, at the Alexander Stadium.

And that earned her qualification for the European Championships in Berlin in August.

Ahead of that, next weekend, she is expected to return to the London Stadium - home of her first Olympic final in 2012 - for the first Athletics World Cup.

She has shrugged off her Commonwealths Games disappointment, having exited the competition after three no throws.

And she said after a seventh British title in total: “A championship best was my goal going in.

“I had the championship best from a couple of years ago (2015), 71.10m, and wanted to build on that, so it was nice to come away with a new record and the gold.

“My distances were good, so I can’t really complain.”

She is putting together a consistent sequence of performances, consistently ovcer 70m, with a best of the year of 73.22m, recorded in Berkeley in California at the Brutus Hamilton Open in April, two weeks after the Commonwealths, and said: “My season’s best is now better than it was going into the Olympics (71.86 in June 2016 at Szczecin in Poland at the Memorial Janusza Kusocinskiego), and it is all about consistency.

“If you can get that, it is a good platform to build on, so hopefully I can do that and make the step up.”

Sophie is confident her new throwing technique is paying dividends.

Over the winter, she switched to a twist heel turn, doing four heel turns instead of one toe and three heel, to create more linear force.

And while there are teething problems, she admitted: “I think it’s kind of been a bit hit and miss.

“Looking at where I am now, the distances have been really good, but it’s still not quite right.

“I’m really positive though.

“When you change something so big after so long, it’s difficult to get it right every time, sometimes you do it well, and sometimes not, so it’s back and forth a bit, but we’re going in the right direction.”

The biggest disappointment was on the Gold Coast, but that has been consigned to history: “The Commonwealths was really disappointing, I came in throwing quite well in competition.

“It was just one of those things, and I’m leaving it in the past now.”

It’s more about the future, and she is excited about the rest of her summer: “I’m waiting for the World Cup team to be announced, and hopefully, if I’m in the team, that looks like it will be a really fun competition to do.

“They asked me to unveil the medals, and it fit in with my training, so I was happy to - I’d never been to Sky before, and it’s good to do that sort of thing if you can as it helps the profile.

“The platinum one is the one to win! That is for the overall team winners, with gold, silver and bronze for the inviduals.

“It’s going to be really difficult, the US are out in front at the moment, so it will be tough.

“The top eight nations from the World Championships last year are there, so it’s not an easy ride at all.

“But it’s a really great stadium to compete in, they do a really good job of hosting athletics events there, and the crowd are great.

“It’s great the hammer is in, we’re still trying to get in as many meets as possible - we got into the anniversary games and it would be nice to have a few more options to compete.

“We had the Birmingham Grand Prix last year, and hopefully we can build on that.”

Then follows the main focus of the season, the European Championships in Berlin, and she added: “The Europeans are really strong in throwing, so there will be a tough battle in Berlin.

“Everyone is so close together, all between 73 and 71 metres every week, so I don’t think we will see someone way out in front, there should be a close battle between the top eight.

“I’m waiting for the squad to be officially announced, but I’ve hit the standard and the top two qualified from Birmingham.

“I’ve not been to Berlin that often, maybe a couple of times, but it’s an iconic stadium for track and field and it would be exciting to compete there.”