Sophie Hitchon (coach: Tore Gustaffson) broke her own British record to become the first British woman to win an Olympic hammer medal in a stunning morning for the athletics team in Rio.
Saving her best until last as she so often does, Hitchon produced a stunning 74.54m throw to move from fifth to third, and secure a sublime bronze medal.
Putting herself in third place with a second round 73.29m, Hitchon then watched Anita Wlodarczyk smash the world record with a throw of 82.29m, to unsurprisingly win Olympic gold. Heading into the final round Hitchon had slipped to fifth behind Betty Heidler and Zalina Marghieva, but as with her previous championship performances she stepped up to the plate when it mattered most, to produce that 74.54m throw, almost a metre better than she’s ever thrown before to win bronze.
“I was just thinking (going into last throw) to keep my mind quiet and execute my technique; in training I’ve done it again and again and again but to do it in competition is completely different. I just had to keep my mind quiet and focussed on my technique. It paid off.
“I knew I hadn’t done enough on the second round – I knew the girls could throw further than that. They’re all consistent as well and I never would rest on a throw and I always want to push for more. I’ve been doing it in training but to do it in competition is amazing.
“Anita is amazing – I’ve been throwing against her for a few years now, but coming fourth last year in Beijing at the Worlds and fourth in Amsterdam, well she’s always winning but hopefully in a few years we can be clutching at her heels a little bit.
“I can’t quite believe it. It’s down to my coach – he’s amazing and he has put in so much time and effort – he comes over to the UK for the whole season. He’s not been home and he has three daughters! He leaves them, comes over and follows me around for the whole season, so thank you to him for everything he’s given up just to be here!”
It was business as usual for Dina Asher-Smith (John Blackie) as she ran a strong race in the first round of the women’s 200m. Looking relaxed, she crossed the line second in 22.77, just behind Blessing Okagbare, to book her semi-final slot.
“It was good – I’m really happy. Obviously I wanted to get out strong and put myself in a good position and then conserve my energy for the next round, and I’ve done that. I did a warm up yesterday and I’ve been training quite well, I was just conserving energy – running smart.
“In the village there are really good vibes right now – everybody is really happy with Jess, Greg and Mo doing so well again – we’re all so pleased so hopefully we can follow that.”
Going in heat seven, Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton) ran a brilliant season’s best of 22.69, but that wasn’t good enough for a top two automatic spot. Thankfully, with it being so quick, she qualified as a fastest loser.
“I am happy – I think ours was quite an easy heat but the closest in terms of times. I am happy with that run. My aim here is to make the final, so I definitely expected to get through the rounds. I am just happy to be through, that’s what the rounds are all about.
“I think the thing is that the first person seems to be quite ahead of the rest of them. So if you look at second and third places those times aren’t crazy, but it was always going to be fast because it’s the Olympic . You can’t expect anything to be slow really.”
Jack Green (Jane Plews) finished like a train over the last 100m to book his spot in the 400mH semi-finals with a 48.96 season’s best. Running from lane seven just inside the World Champion Bett of Kenyan, Green had a lot to do, but he put on the afterburners to move from seventh to second and secure a semi-final spot.
“That’s the fastest time I’ve run since I’ve come back. Before this season I’d only gone under 49 twice and I’ve now got it three times just in this season so whatever happens I can’t be disappointed,” he said.
“I’d like a PB – you don’t deserve things in sport – everyone works hard, but I feel it’s there and it’s about time I did it.”
Seb Rodger (Stephen King) lined up in a tough fourth heat, and despite putting himself in contention coming off the final bend, he had to settle for sixth place in 49.54. Thankfully this was enough to bag the final fastest loser’s spot, so he advances to the semi-finals.
Rob Mullett (David Leach) found the going too tough in the heats of the men’s 3000m steeplechase as he became detached from the lead group and had to run the second half of the race solo. In a race where the Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi jogged across the line in third place, Mullet finished twelfth in 8.48.19 and will not progress.
“It’s hot and it was tough, but I’m used to this and it shouldn’t have been an issue. I’m gutted – I genuinely came here to make the final, so it’s disappointing. I made a conscious decision to sit back but I just didn’t have it. It was never going to be easy to make the final, but I felt like I came in as one of the guys who could have made. It was tough.”