Captain Sophie disappointed with fifth place finish in Lille

File photo dated 15-08-2016 of Great Britain's Sophie Hitchon with her Bronze medal for the Women's Hammer Throw. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday August 22, 2016. See PA story OLYMPICS British Medallists. Photo credit should read Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
File photo dated 15-08-2016 of Great Britain's Sophie Hitchon with her Bronze medal for the Women's Hammer Throw. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday August 22, 2016. See PA story OLYMPICS British Medallists. Photo credit should read Mike Egerton/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Sophie Hitchon led Great Britain to fourth place in the European Team Championships in Lille over the weekend.

Britain just missed out on a podium place as home nation France pipped them by a point following the men’s 4x400m relay.

Germany regained the overall team title they lost in 2015.

Holders Russia missed the competition and have been relegated to the second-tier of European athletics as part of their ban from the sport for state-sponsored doping.

Hitchon, the Rio 2016 Olympic hammer bronze medalist led a developmental team, with many high-profile athletes choosing to sit out the competition to focus on this week’s British Team Trials in Birmingham, ahead of the World Championships in London in August.

There she will be aiming for a fourth-successive British title success.

Hitchon finished fifth in the women’s hammer throw final in Lille, with 69.30m – a finish which disappointed the former Ivy Bank pupil, who said on her twitter page: “After struggling the last few competitions, I am still proud to represent my country and not hide because things are not going my way..”

That was in reference to her performances in June so far.

She started the season with her second best-ever throw of 73.97m to finish second behind the USA’s Gwen Berry (74.13m) in Kawasaki, Japan, at the IAAF World Challenge Meeting last month.

However, on June 5th, she was sixth with 68.20m in Szczecin, Poland, at the Memorial J Kusocinski meeting.

That was followed last weekend by an effort of 70.91m for fourth in Prague at the Memoriál Josefa Odložila competition.

Last season, she regularly threw 71m and above, culminating in a new British record of 74.54m in Rio for bronze.

Her throw in Kawasaki in May meant Hitchon secured qualification for the World Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium - now the London Stadium – in August, beating the qualifying standard of 71m, which athletes need to hit by July 23rd.

All ayes are on London, with Hitchon hoping to improve on her fine fourth place showing at the last Worlds in Moscow in 2015, when she threw 73.86m.