Sophie looking to build on fine form in Russia

England's Sophie Hitchon after winning bronze in the Women's Hammer Throw at Hampden Park, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 28, 2014. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Athletics. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No video emulation.
England's Sophie Hitchon after winning bronze in the Women's Hammer Throw at Hampden Park, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 28, 2014. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Athletics. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No video emulation.

Sophie Hitchon returns to action this weekend at the European Team Championships in Cheboksary in Russia.

The 23-year-old hammer thrower is part of the 47-strong GB and Northern Ireland squad, who will look to improve on their fifth-place finish in Braunschweig, Germany last year.

The previous year’s event in Gateshead saw Sophie finish third with a new British record of 72.97m, as she finished third.

The former Ivy Bank pupil has started the season in fine form, in a year where her main focus is the World Championships in Beijing in August.

Last month Sophie beat the qualifying standard for China – and next year’s Rio Olympics – when she won the Loughborough International with a season’s best of 71.02m.

She has had a consistent campaign to date, recording 69.45m in finishing seventh in Kawasaki, Japan at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix, 69.20m in winning the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, California, and68.41m as she was sixth at the Hallesche Werfertage in Halle, Germany.

Sophie said recently: “It’s all about working towards Beijing now.

“Olympic qualifying runs until July next year, so I’ll look to hit the standard again, but I’m just thinking about this season at the moment.

“There’s the European Team Championships, and then the British Championships in Birmingham (July 3rd to 5th), then I’ll have a couple of hammer challenges to get competition-ready for Beijing.

“The final is definitely the target, I want to get to the final for the first time at the Worlds, and improve on my last two appearances.

“Consistency is the main thing, and trying to push my personal best further. I’ll see how things go.

“I still have a lot of developing to do, getting my technique down and working on the little things, but things are going to plan.”