WORLD Junior Hammer champion Sophie Hitchon celebrated earning her first senior international vest by winning gold at the Aviva England Under 23 Championship at a canter on Sunday in Bedford.
The UK record holder, fresh from finishing eighth at the Spar European Team Championships in Stockholm, was down on her personal best of 69.43m in Bedford, but her winning effort of 67.07m was a championship best - beating Sarah Holt’s 63.60m set in 2009 - and enough to earn a victory margin of over 11 metres!
The Blackburn Harrier finished well clear of Shaunagh Brown of Blackheath and Bromley AC (55.73m), with Christina Jones of Bristol (53.37m) third.
Sophie was in excellent form, with a consistant series of four throws over 66m.
The championships were a chance for a number of athletes to secure qualification standards for the European Under 23 Championships in the Czech Republic next month - but Sophie had already smashed through the hammer qualification standard.
Her win comes hot on the heels of winning her first senior international vest in Stockholm last week, having been called up for the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the Spar European Team Championships.
Only one competitor from each country takes part in each event at the championships, and Sophie joined the likes of Kelly Sotherton, Jenny Meadows, Helen Clitheroe, Chris Tomlinson, Dwain Chambers and Phillips Idowu on the plane.
In a world-class line up, she finished a creditable ninth with her third throw of 66.05m her best, although Sophie was slightly disappointed with the distance, and would have liked to get an extra point for the team by coming eighth.
As it was, she picked up the UK’s opening four points.
Sophie has emerged as the best in the country - at the tender age of 19 - after a brilliant start to the season, building on a year where she became World junior champion with a British junior record of 66.01m.
She has since topped that with her senior British record of 69.43m, breaking Lorraine Shaw’s 2003 mark of 68.93m.
Sophie is the only female British hammer thrower to achieve the Olympic B standard as of yet.