Medal hopeful Sophie not getting ahead of herself

Burnley's Sophie Hitchon will look to add to her medal haul at the IAAF World Athletics Championships, which start on Friday in London.

Thursday, 3rd August 2017, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:17 pm
Hammer Thrower Sophie Hitchon during the team announcement ahead of the IAAF World Championships, at the Loughborough University High Performance Centre. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ATHLETICS London. Photo credit should read: Tim Goode/PA Wire

The 26-year-old, who won bronze in the hammer last summer at the Rio Olympics, goes in qualifying on Saturday at the London Stadium.

The competitors are split into two groups, with Group A going at 10-35 a.m., and Group B at 12-05 p.m., with the final on Monday night at 7 p.m.

The 2010 World junior champion was fourth at the Worlds two years ago in Beijing with a British record – which she surpassed in Rio, but is only focused on the job in hand, getting to the final.

Speaking to me on Tuesday, she said: “We are just going into this championships like any other.

“Focus is on qualification.

“It can be the hardest part.

“Then we go from there.

“I’m not thinking about any expectation, just trying to execute what we have been doing.”

It is that kind of clear-mindedness which has seen her consistently produce her best on the biggest stages at vital times.

She threw a British record five years ago in the then-Olympic Stadium in Stratford, of 71.98m, to qualify for the final at her first Games, going on to finish 12th.

After breaking that record at the European Team Championships in Gateshead the following year, going out to 72.97, Hitchon again set a new mark in Beijing two years ago, going out to 73.86m for fourth.

And a huge throw of 74.54m in Brazil 12 months ago earned her bronze – the first British women’s hammer thrower to win an Olympic medal.

Fresh from her world record at the end of last season, Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk starts as the overwhelming favourite. Four metres clear at the top of the list, the twice Olympic, twice world and three-time European champion heads to London hoping to retain her title from Beijing in 2015.

Hitchon may not have hit those heights consistently so far this year – twice recording finishes over 73m, in Kawasaki and Ostrava, but a medal remains a distinct possibiliyu if she can throw close to her best.

Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk starts as the big favourite for gold.

She was the first woman over 80 metres with 81.08m in 2015, and the 31-year-old has recorded the six best throws of the year so far.

In Cetniewo, Poland, on Saturday, she produced the second furthest throw of all time of 82.87m, just 11 centimetres shy of her world record.

US champion Gwen Berry and China’s Zheng Wang will also challenge.