Hitchon hoping to hammer home her sport

15 May 2012 / 22:02

Sophie Hitchon, the 20-year-old British record holder in the hammer, believes her achievements can help dispel the image of women throwers as muscle-bound and masculine.

The Lancashire athlete has started the season as impressively as any Olympic hopeful, breaking the national record three times, most recently with a throw of 71.61 metres in Chula Vista, California, last month.

"I think it (the image of women's hammer throwing) is changing really slowly," she said. "Hopefully, if I do well and get some publicity, younger girls will be inspired to take it up and not think of it as such a masculine event to do."

The world junior champion's flying start to the summer means she already has the Olympic 'A' standard, having added more than two metres to the British record she threw last year.

It is a feat she could scarcely have imagined during a childhood when ballet was the focus, but she feels feats like hers are making the discipline more attractive to youngsters.

She added: "You still have to be strong and you still have to work hard, but you don't need to be huge and have loads of hair. Hopefully I'll be able to change some people's opinions on what throwing is."

There appear on the surface to be few similarities between the hammer and ballet, but Hitchon claims it provided a perfect foundation.

"It built strength from an early age and you have to have good posture," said Hitchon, who turned her attention to athletics when she was 13. "I think it worked out really well for me. I think if I hadn't done ballet when I was younger I wouldn't be where I am now."

Hitchon made her senior major championship debut at last year's World Championships in Daegu, but it ended in disappointment as she threw well short of her best. But her early-season form indicates she is an athlete who thrives under the pressure of competition, and that gives her plenty of confidence ahead of the London Olympics.

"It's a nice feeling to know that I don't shatter under the pressure," she said. "It's good to be able to compete."