BLACKBURN Harriers are said to be ‘over the moon’ at the selection of their two 19-year-old stars Sophie Hitchon and Holly Bleasdale for the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland Team at the Spar European Team Championships in Stockholm, Sweden on June 18-19.
At this prestigious tournament only one competitor from each country takes part in each event, so the British Team reads as a who’s who of the sport with the likes of Dwain Chambers, Phillips Idowu and Kelly Sotherton – not to forget North West favourites Jenny Meadows and Helen Clitheroe -– all set to take centre stage.
The selection of the two Harriers reflects Hitchon and Bleasdale’s new found status as the current leaders in their fields after both made stunning starts to the 2011 season.
Hitchon became the world junior champion in the hammer last summer, throwing a British junior record 66.01m, which still stands, on the way to her title.
Having graduated to the seniors this year, she has added nearly 3.5 metres to the distance over the close season and swept past all four Brits who had thrown further to break Lorraine Shaw’s eight year old British Senior record of 68.93m by 50 centimetres. Currently she is alone in having reached the Olympic qualifying mark of 69 metres.
Following her bronze medal in the pole vault at the same World Junior Championships, Bleasdale made an early start to her 2011 season by competing indoors – and got a head start over her rivals by twice clearing 4.50m. It was a colossal improvement as at the beginning of the season her indoor best stood at a mere 4.01m.
A week ago she matched her indoor best in an outdoors environment for the first time in her career in a meeting at Ostrava in the Czech Republic to cement her place at the head of the 2011 National Rankings.
She has consistently jumped higher than Kate Dennison this season, but the Sale Harrier remains the only Brit to stand between Holly and the British Record 4.60m first set in 2009.
Within the last few days Dennison has found her form to equal that 4.50m mark in Germany and will be keen to wrestle the number one spot back.