Julia Ratcliffe's maiden appearance at the World Athletics Championships is as much her moment in the sun as it is her dads.

The New Zealand hammer thrower will compete in the qualifiers at London's Olympic Stadium tonight, under the watchful eye of her coach Dave Ratcliffe.

The pair have been navigating their way through a long-distance relationship for years as Dave lives in Hamilton, while Julia attends and competes for Princeton University in the United States of America.

She says her dad identified she had a talent early on and has helped her every step of the way.


"He's been my coach for 12 or 13 years now, he's been there the whole time I've been throwing and it's been awesome to have that journey with him. We started out learning about it together as he'd only thrown it for about a month as a masters athlete and even though he was a track and field coach as well as a P.E teacher he mainly focused on the jumping events."

"He's read a lot of poorly translated Russian hammer throw books, watched a lot of videos and reached out to a number of coaches so he's now such an incredible resource. I'd say he's probably one of the most knowledgeable people about hammer throw in the world at this stage, just because of the amount he's read."

Ratcliffe will throw in qualifying from 9:35pm, with the men's shot put which features Tom Walsh and Jacko Gill preceding that at 9pm.

Princeton University's first female track and field NCAA champion is itching to put on that black singlet, an opportunity she feels has been a long time coming.

"It was pretty rough after Rio, because I think seven out of the 32 that made it to the Olympics had already served a doping ban and countless others in that field were probably doping."

"I didn't throw the qualifying standard [for the 2016 Olympics], but the IAAF set the rankings off the standards that have been made by the athletes. So the rankings may've been inflated by cheating athletes. I'm not going to say I would've made it if they [doping athletes] weren't there, but my chances would've been a lot higher."

As she tries to turn the cheek to those who've tainted her sport, Ratcliffe is focusing on breaking her own New Zealand record in the short period of time she may have in the hammer cage in London.

Her season best is 70.35 metres which she threw on the 16th of July in Princeton, while her personal best was a 70.75m heave in London last year.


"It would be really great to break 70m or my New Zealand record, but who knows what it'll take to make the finals. People often underperform, whereas I'm confident in my ability because I've thrown well recently."

NZ Athletes in action at the World Championships in London today:
Tom Walsh & Jacko Gill - men's shot put qualifying - 9pm NZT
Julia Ratcliffe - women's hammer throw qualifying - 9:35pm NZT

Charlie Bristow has travelled to London thanks to Air New Zealand.​