The New Zealand Herald

Hammer time

- Niall Anderson

Kiwi Julia Ratcliffe wins gold COMMONWEAL­TH GAMES

Julia Ratcliffe has gone a step further than in 2014, claiming a brilliant Commonweal­th Games gold medal in the hammer throw. Ratcliffe put on a supremely consistent display of throwing at Carrara Stadium, pouncing when her main rivals failed, to claim gold with a best throw of 69.94 metres.

The 24-year-old had claimed silver in Glasgow, with a best throw of 69.96, but she produced a top display in wet conditions to win New Zealand’s first gold medal in the discipline last night.

Why was her consistenc­y important? Well, as she reeled off six consecutiv­e throws between 66 and 70 metres, her main rivals — Canada’s Jillian Weir and Olympic bronze medallist Sophie Hitchon of England — both failed to record a legitimate throw on their first three attempts. As a result, they were stunningly eliminated from the competitio­n when the field was culled to eight halfway through.

All of a sudden, Ratcliffe was the woman to beat, having set a strong early standard. Her second throw of 68.60 was nearly matched by her fourth attempt of 68.56 — both throws better than anything her competitor­s could muster.

Her early efforts gave her a 60 centimetre lead over Australia’s Alexandra Hulley, and Hulley proved to be her only remaining rival as the event ticked down to a thrilling conclusion.

There, Ratcliffe found a new level, with her penultimat­e throw of 69.94 metres giving her breathing room.

She ultimately didn’t need it, with Hulley failing to fire on her last two attempts, and Ratcliffe taking home a famous gold.

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