BURNLEY’S Sophie Hitchon is currently in South Korea as she prepares for the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the end of the month.
And the 20-year-old former Ivy Bank pupil is writing an exclusive diary from her preparations at a warm-weather camp in Seoul, as well as the games in Daegu.
The World junior hammer champion, and senior UK record holder, was part of the 67-strong GB squad that flew out on Wednesday, and will be delivering updates on how her training is progressing, before the action begins for real on August 27th.
Sophie Hitchon hopes to set a new UK record after a season where she has established herself as the UK number one, winning the AVIVA National Championships and Trials in Birmingham at the end of July, to earned the right to be selected for the Worlds.
Sophie is the only British hammer thrower to make the B standard - twice - the latest being her British record mark of 69.59m, set on her way to the bronze medal at the European Under 23 Championships in Ostrava.
Aaaaaagh, awful day at the office! Sorry guys, no excuses, just didn’t man up to the job today. I am obviously gutted and disappointed. The experience has been great though and I must admit nothing could prepare you for one of these major comps than actually being here! I mean, I had the world record holder in my pool so it cant get anymore world class! I have learnt a lot and hopefully that will set me up for the European champs and, of course, the Olympics next year, but there is a lot of training and hard work between now and then, I have more drive than ever to succeed and despite the awful result here I can’t wait for the next. Thanks for everyone’s support, it had been a long three weeks and now I’m looking forward to getting home ... after the closing ceremony party which is always fun. I have two weeks off now ... I haven’t planned what I am going to do yet, hopefully go on holiday somewhere and relax, maybe come back to Burnley for a bit. Then it’s onto the hard winter training for next year, which I hope will be just as successful as this year has been. Thanks to everyone who has been reading, I am very grateful for the support.
The competition is amazing! The organisation of everything is great ... all the facilities are brilliant, everything you could want for training purposes are here. I have been to the stadium to watch a few times and the atmosphere is amazing. It is almost full during the evening sessions and the crowd are so supportive of every athlete competing. I feel that it is a privilege to even be here at the championships! We never thought, even at the start of the season, I would be here now. It has been a great experience for me just to come and be part of it. Obviously, I am going into the competition wanting to throw my best but no matter how I do on Friday I have enjoyed every minute. I have achieved so much this season that this is just the icing on the cake now. It’s a fantastic way to finish off what has already been a very successful year for me.
The last few days have been pretty much the same, we have been out here for a long time now and some people are going home now, so it can get a little difficult as I haven’t even started yet. Sessions have been going well and I’m now getting the final preparation sessions in before friday, I only have one session left before qualification. It is getting really hot out here now, very different from the holding camp in Ulsan where it pretty much rained every day we were there. Now it is very hot and sunny. Not doing much in the evenings any more, just relaxing in the apartment and watching films on my lap top. It can get a bit boring but hopefully by Friday I’ll be ready to compete.
I didn’t have much to do in my session today. We did a few drills at the throwing area and some lifting in the gym. I don’t have anything to do this afternoon, just relaxing in my room and watching a few movies. We are now tapering for the competition, getting lots of rest so I’ll be ready for Friday.
I had my first session in the village today and it went well. All athletes are in the village and there is only one training area for throws but it has a few cages so it doesn’t get that busy but you may get a few of the other competitors training as well. After that, we went for dinner and then in the games room for a bit. Later we went to the main stadium and it was amazing ... the feeling of walking into the stadium for the first time is indescribable. It was the opening ceremony so there were fireworks and performers and the stands were almost full. It is a great feeling to be part of something so big.
We moved into the athletes’ village today. We arrived about 4 p.m. and had to pick up our accreditation passes to be able to get into facilities, then we went to our apartment block. We are sharing the block with the Jamaican team on the lower levels and we are on the higher floors. The apartment has seven people sharing with separate twin rooms and a communal area with a TV and kitchen.
Then we went for a look around the facilities and also had dinner. The food is not as good as the holding camp in Ulsan, but it’s OK.
There are lots of facilities around the village, including a cafe, nail and henna art, lots of local cultural things, all training facilities, a sauna and gym, as well as karaoke and a games room.
I had to have my blood test done this evening, all athletes competing at the championships have to go through a doping test, this had been a new idea from the IAAF this year.
Its my sister’s birthday today so sent her a message this morning. She is in Greece at the minute with my mum and dad. I had two sessions today so feel quite tired now. It is our last night in the holding camp, so went out to a restaurant called The Outback, I had steak wich was really nice. We leave for the village at 2 p.m. tomorow so I’m packing up my things tonight then I have a small session in the morning and travell to Daegu on a coach which will take about two hours. It will be a busy day, so I’m going to have a good sleep now
I had a day off and just went shopping in the department store next door, and just ate in the hotel and then went to the cinema to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes - it was in English with Korean subtitles so that was good. It’s nice to try to keep things as normal as possible and just do things like I would at home.
I only had one session today, in the afternoon, so I had a sleep in then just went on the Internet in the lounge. The session went well, things are getting better. Tonight we have a team meeting now everyone is here from the UK, people start moving to the village tomorrow. I go on Friday so I have few more sessions here first.
Today was my media day, I had some photos done and then had a few interviews for the TV and newspapers - hopefully we will be able to see the pictures
Today was my rest day. I had a lie-in this morning then went to the shopping mall with my room mate Louise Hazel (heptathlon). They had lots of designer shops, I will probably try to buy somthing before I go to the cometition village, I also had some treatment off the therapists. Now I am just in the athletes’ lounge. talking to people back home.
I had another double session day today. This was probably the hardest day, as it was the third day of training. Tomorrow I will have a rest day. At night we just played cards and listened to music in the athletes’ lounge.
Today was the start of my full sessions. I had two throwing sessions one at 11, then lunch and watching a few films and perhaps a short nap, then back to the track at 4-30 for my second session. Afterwards I had dinner and have just come back from having a Starbucks and chilling out in the athletes’ lounge with some of the team. Today was very wet and not as hot as yesterday, I am getting over the jet lag well so hopfully will be fully recoved by Sunday or Monday.
We arrived at about 11pm Korean time last night, the travel was very long, we had an eleven hour flight to Soul then a four hour wait, another plane then a two hour bus journey, so was ready to go to bed when we arrived.
The place is a lot like Japan with very tall buildings and neon signs. There is a shopping mall attached to the hotel and a Starbucks next door so it’s very much like London.
I have answered a few questionnaires this morning so the medical staff can monitor us for jet lag and dehydration. I have my first session this afternoon it will only be a light warm up and some easy throws just to get adjusted to the climate and recover from the travel.
It is midday here so just going for lunch.