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Confident hammer-thrower Sophie Hitchon eyeing a major Moscow moment
GREAT Britain has never won a hammer competition at a global senior event, but Sophie Hitchon insists she will be content to make the final of the World Championships in Moscow this week.
The Blackburn Harrier will kick-start her glory quest in the qualifying rounds tomorrow as she bids to build on a remarkable season of progress, the perfect preparation for her Russian challenge.
Hitchon won gold at the European Under-23 Championships in Finland last month, hot on the heels of breaking her own British record at the European Team Championships at Gateshead.
Hitchon heaved her throw 72.97 metres, extending her record by 99 centimetres off her previous best and securing the Burnley athlete a place at the World Championships.
“That was definitely another breakthrough moment for me, and I’ve had a good season so far,” said Hitchon “The year was all about aiming towards Moscow, and the competition will be fierce.
“I just want to make the final in Moscow and then I’ll be happy.”
Hitchon finished 12th at the London Olympics, but this year has seen her achieve fresh personal milestones.
“I’ve really pushed on from London, I’m a better athlete, more assured and confident,” she added.
“The Olympics was a great yardstick, weighing up the opposition and recognising what sort of standards I knew I had to reach in the hammer.
“The experience of London has stood me in good stead, it has convinced me that I can go on and do well and my results this season indicate that I have improved.
“Sometimes, it is all about belief and having the mental strength to deal with the occasion and the Olympics put me in a really good place.
“A lot has happened in a short space of time, but sometimes the hardest part is qualifying.
“You only get three attempts – only half of the competitors make it, so you have to try and make it count.”
The former World Junior champion threw 71.98 metres at the Olympics, and the hammer elite of the world know Hitchon is fast emerging as a force to be reckoned with.
“Moscow is my third major championships, and looking back to my first one, at Degau, I didn't cope with it,” she said.
“But you learn from bad experiences and make them good ones by drawing from that moment when things don't go to plan.
“I know what to expect now and that’s half the battle.
“I think I react well under pressure, though.
“I do it to myself all the time; to qualify at the Olympics, at the World Juniors to win, always leaving it to the last throw.
“I don’t know why I do it to myself, it’s so stressful but it seems to work.”
Another crucial factor in Hitchon’s development is the influence of her new coach Tore Gustafsson, a three-times Olympic finalist.
“A lot of the training is still the same, but Tore is such a hugely experienced coach and you learn so much from working with him every day,” Hitchon added.
“Moscow is another huge challenge, but one I’m relishing.”
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