Fourth British title for hammer ace

Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Sophie Hitchon claimed her fourth-successive British hammer title on Saturday, to rubber-stamp her place at the IAAF World Championships in London next month.

Hitchon finished with 67.58m at the World Championships Team Trials at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, over four metres ahead of her closest rival Rachel Hunter of Ayr, who threw 63.27m.

Both claimed the required distance to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Queensland, but it was all about qualifying for the Worlds, and Hitchon will be there at the London Stadium, where she competed in the Olympic final in 2012.

She had already thrown the qualifying standard this season, passing the 71m mark in two competitions, a season’s best of 73.97m at the IAAF World Challenge Meeting in May in Kawasaki, Japan, before last Tuesday’s effort of 73.68m at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic.

Her British title-winning throw was well down on those marks, as she acknowledged afterwards on her twitter page: “A lot more work to do but qualified to #REPRESENT @BritAthletics at World Championships”

Hitchon fouled in the first round in Birmingham, but soared into the lead with her second effort of 67.55m.

She backed that up with a throw of 66.97m in the third round, before a foul in the fourth.

She then extended her lead in the fifth round, going out to 67.58m, with her final effort hitting the net.

Sale’s Sarah Holt finished third behind Hunter with 61.53m.

Hitchon will go to London as one of British Athletics’ medal hopes, having finished fourth at the Worlds in Beijing with 73.86m.

She was again fourth at the European Championships in Amsterdam last July with 71.74m, before breaking her own British record to claim Olympic bronze in Rio a month later with 74.54m.

Hitchon now goes back to preparing for London, with all the focus on training and technique, as she said to me earlier this year: “It’s about training and results, which won’t happen unless you knuckle down.

“That’s the way I think about it, other people might think about it differently, but with throwing, it can be there one day, and not the next.

“It doesn’t feel the same, and there’s no explanation.

“I would like a little more consistency, and it is about trying to get that rhythm.

“If I can get close to last year, that will be great.

“I can only really do what I can do, and focus on that really. It’s about being the best I can be.”