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A championship learning curve

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Sophie Hitchon
Hitchon - a world top eight with another World Juniors still to go




24 July 2008


Article as seen in Athletics Weekly



In case you hadn’t realised – with all the coverage of the Olympic trials – last week saw the World Junior championships take place in Poland and as a member of the Great Britain team I was proud to take part in the hammer and make the final – finishing seventh. The team did well with a 5 medal haul.


Competing at Bydgoszcz was a far cry from my early experiences in athletics. I decided to start going to my local athletics club Pendle AC to keep fit, and chose athletics because my parents were both sprinters when they were younger.


Not long after starting, I was asked to have a go at the hammer as they were short of people to compete in throws events in their league fixtures. I did and the rest as they say is history – I found I took to it quite well, and from that point on I started to focus on the hammer.


That was just two years ago and since then I’ve had some superb experiences. Last year I was fortunate enough to compete in Ostrava at the IAAF World Youth Championships.


It was a big step up for me – I had never even been to an English Schools competition and there I was going from local league straight into a World championship. I knew it was going to be an amazing experience, and I was told by lots of people what it would be like and what to expect. However sometimes, even if someone tells you what it will be like it does little to prepare you – it was a lot bigger than I expected!


Although it was my first competition I was disappointed not to make the final – I have always had high expectations of myself and the fact that I had been doing hammer for only a year made no difference – I had really wanted to make that final.


Therefore I went into last winter determined not only to make the World Junior Championships, but to ensure I made the final and improved on last year’s performance. I spent hours working on my strength but mainly my technique, which whilst ok, wasn’t as good as it could have been.


My coach is Dave Smith – former GB hammer thrower and father of Alex and Peter Smith so it’s no surprise I have improved since last year – however I wasn’t expecting to break the UK junior record for hammer in only my second competition of the summer, nor to sustain that form for the season!


However as I’ve only just turned 17 last Friday – I’m well aware that I potentially have another World Juniors to aim for, and I need to show season upon season improvement if I am to progress as a thrower.


I recently discussed this with Dave and he told me I just need to keep it going, and keep working and training hard – which is exactly what I intend to do continuing on to make an impact as a senior.


And each and every one of these championship experiences will go towards the learning process and make me a stronger competitor at the next event.