SOPHIE Hitchon improved her own British record in the hammer to take third place in the European U23s Championships in the Czech Republic.

And it was double delight for young East Lancashire athletes as Holly Bleasdale won gold in the pole vault.

Burnley-born Hitchon – the world junior champion – threw 69.59m to beat her own national record of 69.43m which she set at the BUCS Championships in Bedford back in May.

However, the Blackburn Harrier had to settle for a bronze medal with Romania’s Bianca Perie winning gold with a throw of 71.59m and surprise package, Poland’s Joanna Fidorow, who went to the championships with a pb of 66.82m picking up silver with a throw of 70.06m.

Chorley’s Bleasdale, also a member of Blackburn Harriers, opened with 4.30m and took the lead after clearing 4.45m at the second attempt – a position she held right to the end.

Bleasdale, the youngest competitor in the pole vault final, secured gold with a clearance of 4.55m before failing at 4.66m which would have been a new championship record.