Sophie Hitchon tried but failed to hide her disappointment after missing her medal target at the World Championships in London.
Twelve months on from the smile that lit up Rio, where she won a breakthrough Olympic bronze in the women’s hammer final, cheers were replaced by tears.
Her best effort of 72.67m ranked her seventh in a high-quality final won by Poland’s double Olympic champion Anita Wlodarczyk, with China’s Zheng Wang and another Polish thrower Malwina Kopron completing the podium.
Hitchon, 26, admitted in the build-up to these Championships that her preparations had not been ideal, while refusing to elaborate on the exact reasons why.
But she still believed she could become the first British thrower to medal at these championships since Fatima Whitbread won javelin gold in Rome 30 years ago.
She had made the final with one impressive qualifying throw but she still would have needed to improve her 74.54m personal best, which won her Olympic bronze, to make the medals.
“I think I showed in qualification that I was in better shape than that,” she said.
“I just couldn’t quite find my rhythm. The result was not what I wanted and I’m just sorry I couldn’t produce something better for that crowd.
“I didn’t feel extra pressure because of the Olympics, I put enough pressure on myself for a result and I didn’t do what I needed.
“I didn’t come in here thinking I’m going to win a medal just because I won a medal last year, because it doesn’t work like that.
“I know I’m capable of more than that and I’m certainly up for trying. I’ll definitely be beating myself up about this for a while, that’s just part of my personality.
“Perhaps other athletes can hide it but I just can’t. I felt like I was in better shape and that’s why I’m just so gutted.”
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Hitchon was cheered by another capacity crowd but this stadium is not a place with happy memories.
The former ballet dancer failed to make the Olympic final in 2012 but insists she will be patient in pursuit of more medals, believing she won’t peak until the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and look to improve for next year,” she added.
“There are two big championships next year in the Commonwealth Games and Europeans and that will be my focus.
“I just need a few days to process this first because I’m just so disappointed.”
You can help the next generation of young British athletes by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with London 2012 hero Greg Rutherford MBE. Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek.
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