More to come from Sophie as she prepares for a big season
It was one of the abiding memories of the IAAF World Athletics Championships.
A tearful Sophie Hitchon was consoled by BBC trackside reporter Phil Jones after finishing seventh in the hammer at the London Stadium.
In the grand scheme of things, seventh place in the world was a huge achievement for the Burnley-born athlete, but the 26-year-old was disappointed after landing the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics 12 months previous.
As she does so often, she had saved her best throw until last, but an effort of 72.32m wasn’t enough for a place on the podium, and as she found the words to express her upset, she said: “I’m going to beat myself up for a while after this.
“That’s part of my personality and probably most athletes are the same, but maybe it just comes out in me a little bit more. I think it’s the pressure I put on myself to produce my best and I didn’t do that.”
But, if you look at her year as a whole, she went into the championships ranked 10th in the world, and actually climbed to ninth at the close of the year – one of 17 British athletes to finish in the top 10 in their respective events in the 2017 world merit rankings.
Sophie finished with a seasonal best of 73.97m , in Kawasaki, Japan, at the IAAF World Challenge Meeting in May , when she finished second.
That was just shy of her British record of 74.54m, set in winning bronze in Rio.
Her top five performances over the year were all above 72m, as opposed to two above that mark in Olympic year and in 2015.
And, in the six months since, while she hasn’t completely re-evaluated things, she can at least look at the positives ahead of a big year for her, which will see her compete for England on the Gold Coast in Australia in the Commonwealth Games in April, and for Great Britain in the European Championships in Berlin in August, before getting married in September.
And she said: “Looking back, it wasn’t too bad.
“I wasn’t so happy at the time, but that’s the same for everyone, you’re striving for perfection.
“It didn’t work out as well as I thought it would.
“I learned a lot from last year, and hopefully I can use that this year.
“It’s not anything really different, anything I’ve not done before, but I’m going well so far in training and hopefully that continues.
“You’re searching for the way really, and you are kind of guessing a bit, you’ve got to see if something works, and if it doesn’t, try something else, and see which way works.
“I hope there’s a lot more to come.”
How much more, she wisely doesn’t disclose: “It’s nice to see yourself in the top 10, and it’s just about climbing higher now, and hopefully I can progress this year.
“I won’t set a target though, it is what it is – I don’t want to put a limit or a roof on what I can achieve.”
And while some days are harder than others, she retains the desire to make an even bigger mark in the sport: “It’s always difficult at some points, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
“You go through waves of enjoying moments, but sometimes it’s difficult.
“It’s rubbish when it’s raining, but I’m really motivated and remember my own motivation.”
She will have an early opportunity to add to her medal haul in April in Australia, as she looks to improve on her bronze in Glasgow at the 2014 Commonwealths: “I’m going back to California in a few weeks, before flying straight to Australia.
“That means I don’t have to take two long-haul flights to get there and can break it up, and get some more warm-weather training before.
“Obviously it’s a little bit different this year with the Commonwealth Games in April, but I think every year is a little bit different and you learn from that every year.
“Looking at the Commonwealths, the answer is always the same. It’s about focusing on what I do, one throw at a time, hopefully getting to the final and taking it from there.
“I don’t know if there are qualifying rounds for the final this year, it depends on the entries.
“But then it’s the Euros in Berlin in August.
“I wouldn’t say that’s bigger, but there’s a stronger field there.
“There’s a really high standard and it will be close between the top few.
“It’s all about Australia first though.”