Hastings Athletic Club can proudly lay claim to a global champion.
Louisa James, who celebrated her 17th birthday last Tuesday, claimed a shock gold in the girls’ hammer at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” a delighted James told Observer Sport. “It was pretty amazing. I went in ranked about ninth or 10th so it was a bit of a shock.”
One of the youngest participants in the competition, James was in third place after the opening round of the final with a throw of 55.79m. Malwina Kopron, from Poland, led with 57.03m.
But James seized the lead with a magnificent second throw of 57.13m - exactly one metre further than her previous lifetime best which she set in a Southern Women’s League meeting on April 30.
James’ throw also improved her own Sussex under-20 and senior record, and lifted her to sixth place on the British under-20 all-time list. What’s more, she still has another year in the under-20 age group.
Her lead was still intact as the top eight of the 12 finalists advanced to the last three rounds. Kopron threw 55.08m in the fifth, but fouled in the closing round which meant the celebrations could start.
“It felt like years. In the last round I was sitting over by the (trackside) barrier,” she added. “The medal ceremony was very surreal. They played the national anthem and it was a very proud moment.”
The full article will appear in tomorrow’s Hastings and Battle Observers.