Sophie throws seasonal best for Team GB in Russia

England's Sophie Hitchon in the Women's Hammer Throw at Hampden Park, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 27, 2014. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Athletics. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire. RESTICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No video emulation.
England's Sophie Hitchon in the Women's Hammer Throw at Hampden Park, during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 27, 2014. See PA story COMMONWEALTH Athletics. Photo credit should read: John Giles/PA Wire. RESTICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No video emulation.

Sophie Hitchon continued her impressive start to the year with a season’s best of 71.89m to finish fifth for Great Britain at the European Team Championships in Cheboksary, Russia on Sunday.

Sophie’s third and final throw sealed fifth place, as Poland’s world-record holder Anita Wlodarczyk winning with a final world-leading throw of 78.28m.

Betty Heidler threw 75.73m on her final attempt to lead the hammer, but Wlodarczyk responded superbly with a championship record.

For Sophie, it was the second time she had securing a World Championship qualifying mark this year, as well as passing the Olympic qualifying standard for Rio 2016 again.

Her performance claimed Great Britain eight team points, as they finished fifth overall with 291 points, while the hosts took the title with 368.5.

Hitchon said: “I feel really pleased to throw a season’s best and to throw 70m again and another world champs qualifier, but I feel like I definitely had more in me.

“I missed it a little bit and you only get three rounds so you have to bring it.

“I’d have liked that fourth throw to push it out further.

“But I am building towards the end of the season and World Championships in Beijing hopefully – that’s the main goal.”

Sophie won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last summer, but only threw over 70m once, reaching 71.53m at Halle in May, and overall was disappointed with her season.

She admitted: “Last year was terrible – it was one of those rough years that I think every athlete has.

“I like to try take the positive and learn from what I didn’t do and move forward.

“Throwing that (71.89m) has given me a little bit more confidence.”

Already this season she has beaten the Beijing World Championships 2015 qualifying distance of 70m, and the Rio 2016 standard of 71m, as she hit 71.02m to win the Loughborough International in May.

Prior to that, she had a best effort of 69.45m in the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Kawasaki, Japan, 69.20m to win in Palo Alto at the Payton Jordan Invitational, and 68.41m at the Hallesche Werfertage in Halle.

This year Sophie’s major aim is the 15th IAAF World Championships in Beijing at the end of August, where she goes in search of a place in the final, while a second Olympic Games appearance is on the cards next summer.

The International Association of Athletics Federations entry standards for Rio 2016 were approved on April 15th, with qualifying opening on May 1st, and running until July 11th next year.