Sophie sets her sights on Beijing as she looks to build on bronze

Sophie Hitchon

Sophie Hitchon

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Sophie Hitchon is hoping 2015 will be a big year for her, as she looks to build on her Commonwealth Games bronze medal.

The 23-year-old was third in the hammer in Glasgow, to claim a place on the podium in her first season as a senior.

But illness blighted her bid to reach the European Championship final in Zurich, while last season was the first in which the Burnley athlete failed to set a new personal best.

Her best throw of the year was 71.53m set in Halle, Germany in May, with her PB, the British record of 72.97m swet in 2013, not coming under threat.

On reflection, Sophie feels her year will be a big part of her learning experience: “At the time I was disappointed with my performance and a bronze medal at the Commonwealths, but looking back now, it was good for the form I was in last year.

“I didn’t had the easiest of years, so to come away with a bronze medal is good on reflection.

“Then I was quite ill for the Euros and lucky to even be able to compete, but there’s also been a few things just not gone right - it’s the first year I’ve had a few struggles, so it’s about learning from them.”

Weight loss also affected her performance, ending the season at around 68kg, having started at arounf 75kg, as she explained: “I lost weight, which didn’t help, but there were a number of different things which caused me to not put in great performances.

“It’s been a learning experience.

“My training volume may have caused me to lose weight - it wasn’t something we noticed, and I didn’t have any problems with my weight before, so it didn’t occur to me.

“Looking back it probably was a factor.

“You’re throwing a 4 kilo hammer as far as you can, and body weight comes into it.

“I’m just trying to get everything to mesh together and hopefully I can do that.”

She has been working with a nutritionist at British Athletics, and feels in good shape ahead of another big year in the sport - with the World Championships in China on the horizon, taking place in the Bird’s Nest, which housed the 2008 Olympic Games: “The Worlds are in Beijing in August, and that is my main competition - everything is building up to that.

“I’d like to make the final, but we’ll see how things go.

“In the final, anything can happen then, and the top eight would be nice, but the final is my main goal.”

Until then, it is about gearing up to hit peak form in the summer.

And, after seeing family and friends back home over the Festive period, she will shortly be back in California stepping up her preparations: “I have some more training periods in California, before the competitions start - April is probably when I will open my season, and there are some great competitions in great conditions to try and get everything right.

“They’ve changed the qualifying standard for the Worlds - the qualifying mark is 70m this year, so hopefully that’s not much of a problem and I can get that out of the way as soon as possible.”

Sophie, based in Loughborough, has consistently thrown in and around the 70m mark, and, after first breaking the UK record in 2011, has extended it each year until last year: “It was a shame I couldn’t throw further last year, but when you have done it for quite a while, you can plateau.

“You’re trying to find the tiny bits to push you on further, and this year I’m confident I can do that.

“Everyone in athletics has a season where they plateau, you’ve just got to reflect and change things and move on.

“Coming away with a medal from the Commonwealths was a success for the year, I’m pleased with it, after having time to reflect.

“But you are always striving for more, and I’m confident this will be a good year.”