Rio Olympics 2016: Former ballet dancer becomes first British woman to win a medal in hammer throwing

Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo / AP
Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo / AP

Britain's fantastic performance at Rio 2016 continued today as Sophie Hitchon became the first British woman to win an Olympic medal in the hammer throw.

The 25-year-old from Burnley broke the British record with her final throw of the competition to land an historic hammer bronze at the games this morning.

The ex-ballet dancer, who only squeezed into the final as the 11th of 12 qualifiers, launched the hammer out to 74.54 metres to move from sixth place to third.

Britain's Sophie Hitchon only squeezed into the final as the 11th of 12 qualifiers, launched the hammer out to 74.54 metres to move from sixth place to third. Photo / AP
Britain's Sophie Hitchon only squeezed into the final as the 11th of 12 qualifiers, launched the hammer out to 74.54 metres to move from sixth place to third. Photo / AP

She is the first British man or woman to win an Olympic hammer medal since 1924.

Hitchon lay in third place in the early stages of the event thanks to a second-round throw of 73.29m, but was bumped down the standings and looked set to miss out.

But on her sixth attempt she produced a throw which added a whopping 70cm to her own national record. She completed a lap of honour draped in the Union Flag.

5ft 7in Hitchon told BBC One: 'I had to double take a little bit because it was just incredible to see me up there with a national record.

'I was just trying to execute my technique, I missed it on a few but I knew it was going to go if I just kept it going.'

Asked what was going through her mind as she approached her final throw, she added: 'I was just thinking this is it - just do what I've done in training again and again and again. I did it and I can't believe it.'

Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk took the gold in a world record 82.29m, the third world record at the Olympic Stadium on only the fourth day of competition.

Britain's bronze medal winner Sophie Hitchon, Poland's gold medal winner Anita Wlodarczyk and China's silver medal winner Zhang Wenxiu for hammer throwing. Photo / AP
Britain's bronze medal winner Sophie Hitchon, Poland's gold medal winner Anita Wlodarczyk and China's silver medal winner Zhang Wenxiu for hammer throwing. Photo / AP

Hitchon's was the first Olympic medal in the event for Britain since Malcolm Nokes won bronze in Paris 92 years ago.

The women's event has only been on the Olympic programme since Sydney in 2000.

It is perhaps the least glamorous event on the athletics programme and it is not even contested on the Diamond League circuit.

Hitchon, who had dreamed of becoming a professional dancer and took ballet lessons for 12 years, has previously said the two complemented one another.

Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the Rio Olympics. Photo / AP
Britain's Sophie Hitchon celebrates after winning the bronze medal in the women's hammer throw final during the Rio Olympics. Photo / AP

She said in 2012 that the time spent on stage while dancing had prepared her mentally to 'perform' in front of an audience and helped her 'cope with pressure.'

Aged 14, Hitchon took up the hammer after a coach at her local athletics club in Burnley said they had no one to do it and asked if she would give it a go.

The girl known for her ballet had a raw talent for the sport and broke the British under 17s record in her first year of competing, aged 15.

- Daily Mail

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