Katie 'Hammer' Head changing perceptions of hammer throwing

·3 min read
Katie 'Hammer' Head changing perceptions of hammer throwing

Katie ‘Hammer’ Head’s nickname should leave you in no doubt over the Essex athlete’s event of choice.

Daughter of Commonwealth medallist and Olympian Paul Head, the Grays star first threw aged 11 after joining her dad at a coaching session he was running.

Hammer throwing was a comparatively niche sport for women at that stage, though attitudes have since changed.

The 22-year-old, who has been selected to be part of the Team England Futures programme with Commonwealth Games England and SportsAid, said: “I know when I was a youngster, turning up to Youth Development League competitions and open competitions, people still didn’t even realise hammer was an event.

“You would walk in with your hammers and people would be like: ‘Oh, what are they?’ For women’s hammer throwing as well, it only went into the Olympics in 2000.

“British throwing now, you could turn up to a major championship and the person ranked fourth or fifth in the rankings could win. It’s one of those ones where you can never judge who’s going to win at a championships.

“Hopefully with how exciting the event is becoming it will become more noticed throughout.”

The Team England Futures programme will see over 1,000 talented young athletes and aspiring support staff given the opportunity to attend the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, watch live sporting action and take a first-hand look behind-the-scenes.

The programme seeks to better prepare athletes to deliver medal-winning performances as either Team England, Team GB or ParalympicsGB debutants at future Games, while also giving support staff a first-hand look at the opportunities they could be presented with, as well as challenges they may face, at a multi-sport competition.

A key protagonist for British throwing was Sophie Hitchon, the British record holder who won a historic Olympic bronze back in Rio de Janeiro six years ago.

Head moved to second on the UK all-time list behind Hitchon earlier this year with a new personal best of 69.72m, exactly matching that distance a few weeks later.

While Hitchon was considered an outlier during her heyday, Head revels in strong domestic competition.

She added: “There’s a lot of girls in and around the same distance as me. Quite a lot of the girls, we’re all around the same age.

“We’re used to competing with each other and I think it’s quite nice that we’ve all got the target to get to the standard of Sophie.

“It’s also going through the age groups together and still pushing each other at competitions, championships and rankings, now we’re 21-22 and senior athletes vying for selection for spots at championships.

“We’re still the same group of people pushing each other forward.”

The Commonwealth Games and European Championships are realistic goals this year, and Head believes her dad’s mentorship could be a key advantage.

However, there is one particular bragging-right based goal also at the forefront of her mind as she progresses in her career.

Head commented: “The goal is to throw further than dad’s PB of 74.02m, I’ve got to be the longest thrower in the family. I’ve still got that goal to achieve!

“Some things are the same from when dad was throwing, so it’s quite nice to know he’s got a rough plan in his head of what will happen at a major championships and how the logistics work.

“Once I’m there and I’m ready to compete I’m fine because I’m in my own world doing what I do, it’s more the build up and going through the holding camp and getting used to the athlete village - that’s all the stuff where I learn so much more from him.”

Commonwealth Games England has appointed SportsAid to lead on the development, management and operational delivery of Team England Futures at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. You can find out more about the programme by visiting https://www.sportsaid.org.uk/partnerships/team-england-futures/.

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