With her two major rivals fouling out, New Zealand hammer thrower Julia Ratcliffe deservedly won the women’s hammer throw gold medal tonight.
For Radcliffe, victory was all the sweeter because she narrowly missed out on the gold at the Glasgow Games in 2014, finishing with the silver medal.
This time she made no mistake. Ratcliffe won with a throw of 69.94m, well clear of silver medallist Australian Alexandra Hulley’s 68.20m. Another Australian, Lara Nielsen, was third with 65.03m.
Ratcliffe, 24, was extremely consistent. Her sequence of throws was: 66.19m, 68.60m, 68.14m, 68.56m, 69.94m, 67.81m. Three of her throws were better than anything Hulley managed.
There was a bombshell in the competition when Englishwoman Sophie Hitchon and Canadian Jillian Weir both fouled out. They were regarded as definite medal prospects and their absence certainly opened the door for Ratcliffe.
“When I saw they were both out, I sat there thinking, “I could win a gold medal here,” Ratcliffe said.
“I wanted to win this one so badly. I can’t believe it.”
She said she had to work hard to remain focused. “Alexandra threw out a big one and I realised I couldn’t rest on my laurels. I had to get my head down and get the job done.”
Ironically, Ratcliffe said she had an abysmal warmup. “I was all over the place. It was terrible. But I managed to get it back once the competition started, and I’m quite proud of that. I had to hold it together mentally.”
Ratcliffe felt it was one of her most consistent series of throws. There wasn’t a really big one, but they were all good, one of the best series of my life.”
And with that she burst into another smile. “I’m just so happy,” she said, though the words were hardly necessary.
Glasgow 2014 Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Julia Ratcliffe Athletics