Sophie Hitchon opens her European Championships campaign this morning in Berlin with the hammer qualifying round.
The German capital hosts the 24th Championships, at the iconic Olympic Stadium – famous for Jesse Owens’ heroics in 1936, “single-handedly crushing Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy”, as well as Usain Bolt blitzing his 100m world record in 2009 – the biggest improvement since the start of electronic timing.
Hitchon joins World record holder and Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland in the first round, with, hopefully, a final to follow on Sunday evening at 7-30 p.m.
Hitchon expects a tough competition, as she saif to me last month: “The Europeans are really strong in throwing, so there will be a tough battle in Berlin.
“Everyone is so close together, all between 73 and 71 metres every week, so I don’t think we will see someone way out in front.
“There should be a close battle between the top eight.
“I’ve not been to Berlin that often, maybe a couple of times, but it’s an iconic stadium for track and field and it will be exciting to compete there.”
She goes to Berlin in fine form, having enjoyed a consistent year to date.
Last month, Hitchon was second in the women’s hammer at the inaugural Athletics World Cup at the London Stadium, behind Wlodarczyk.
Wlodarczyk broke her own British all-comers’ record with a throw of 78.74m – 84cm better than the effort which won her the world title, also at the London Stadium. last summer.
Hitchon was second with a season’s best of 73.48m, up on the 73.22m recorded in Berkeley in California at the Brutus Hamilton Open in April, two weeks after the Commonwealth Games.
She also threw a British Championship-best of 72.02m to win by 10 metres in Birmingham at the Alexander Stadium last month, earning her qualification for the European Championships in Berlin.
She has shrugged off her Commonwealths Games disappointment, having exited the competition after three no throws, consistently throwing over 70m, and her season’s best is now better than it was going into the Olympics (71.86 in June 2016 at Szczecin in Poland at the Memorial Janusza Kusocinskiego), where she won the bronze medal in Rio.