Sisters inspired by Olympic medal winner
Two sisters have set their sights on emulating one of the success stories from Team GB at the Rio Olympics.
Sophie Hitchon, 25, bagged Great Britain’s first hammer medal at an Olympic Games for 92 years when she threw a British record 74.54metres in Brazil to win bronze.
Now Grassmoor duo Lauren and Natasha Hill are determined to be inspired by the former ballerina, who bettered her own national record by 70cms to claim the Olympic medal.
Members of Chesterfield and District Athletics Club, Lauren, 15, and Natasha, 14, have both had good seasons at the sport — Lauren continuing her national and regional success from 2015 and Natasha making an impact in her first summer at the traditionally unglamorous field event to reach the top 40 nationally for her age-group.
Lauren is now targeting a place at next year’s World Youth Games in Nairobi, Kenya, as she has already thrown close to the qualifying standard. She also has ambitions of making the 2024 Olympics.
Both girls have been glued to their TV screens to watch the Rio games and in particular their heroes, Hitchon and GB pentathlon star Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Natasha, a pupil at Tupton Hall School, Chesterfield, started her first season at the hammer with a throw of 18m in April.
By the Northern Athletics Championships at Middlesbrough in August, she had added 21m by throwing a new personal best of 39.20m in the under-15s section.
Lauren said she was aware of the threat next season from Natasha, who will compete with her in the under-17s, and said she would have to start training even harder as Natasha could give her a run for her money.
Natasha’s throwing coach at Chesterfield and District AC, dad Mark Hill, and technical director Paul Chapman said they were proud of her.
Natasha, who trains twice a week at club sessions at her school and is also a junior coach, said: “I just want to continuously improve in the hammer and get to the English Schools Championships next year.”
This summer Lauren was fifth in the English Schools under-17s hammer at Gateshead with her best ever throw, 55.74m, as she moved up an age level. Last year she was under-15s champion.
The teenager was also gold medallist (52.73m) at the Masons Trophy at the Inter Counties Schools Championships in Birmingham, before claiming an under-17s bronze medal at the Northern Championships, throwing 53.98m.
She threw 53.56m to win the Derbyshire Schools’ Athletics Championships with a record throw, following her 47.66m junior best mark set last year. At the UK Inter Counties, which included the England Senior Championships at Bedford, Lauren was third.
The multi-talented teenager, who secured herself a place at Mount St Mary’s College, Spinkhill, has made the school’s hockey and netball teams. A busy summer has seen Lauren also throw javelin successfully and race in the hurdles.
“My long-term goal is to make it as a professional athlete and one day represent GB at the Olympics,” she said.
Lauren trains on Mondays with the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield, to work on her hurdling technique with coach Dan Dukes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays she works at Tupton Hall School to improve her hammer skills with dad Mark and technical director Paul Chapman. She also does weights and core work on Wednesdays at Sharley Park Leisure Centre, Clay Cross.
Dad Mark said: “Both girls show fantastic potential. It is becoming very interesting to watch as the distance between their pbs decreases.”
Lauren has been supported by the Derbyshire ICON scheme, which has helped out with new equipment.
Mark said: “For instance, the cost of a pair of throw shoes and her competition hammer well exceeds £250. The Ron Pickering Trust has also given support, which has helped with costs.
“But we are always on the look-out for any form of sponsorship, especially now that Natasha has shown great form to get into the top 40 throwers in the UK in her first season.”