Great Yarmouth shot putter Sophie McKinna ready to conquer the best UK has to offer
Sophie McKinna insists she has well and truly smashed her targets for 2012 and now wants to do the same to the best juniors in Europe next year before targeting the whole of the UK.
The 17-year-old from Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth, who specialises in the shot put, broke the 16m barrier for the first time ever this year – twice throwing over the distance – as her personal best increased from 15.71m to 16.23m.
In doing so, along with victory at the England Under-20 Championships, McKinna secured a ticket to Barcelona for the World Junior Championships where she finished an impressive fifth.
She was just two centimetres away from breaking the 16m barrier again, while her season may well have ended after finishing third at the UKA McCain Jumps and Throws Fest on Saturday.
McKinna threw a best of 15.36m and quickly revealed her determination to win a medal at next year's European Junior Championships and make inroads into becoming the best senior in Britain.
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'I've had a really good year, I've competed at the world juniors, which was my target, and I've thrown over 16m, which was also my target, so I've met all my personal aims for the season,' she said. 'So next season I just want to keep on doing the same and the first target is the European Junior Championships in Italy – I don't just want to qualify, though I want to make a mark.
'I will be top of the age group at the European juniors so I want to be competitive. I think I can bump up my UK ranking to second and who knows what happens after that, but it is just all about improving.
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'I am ranked third in the seniors at the moment so I don't see why in a couple of years, if I continue to improve, I can't be at the top in the UK.'
Indeed, British number one Eden Francis, who has thrown over 17m this year, took victory ahead of McKinna at the Jumps and Throws Fest in Birmingham with a best effort of 16.03m.
Rachel Wallader, ranked fourth in the UK, was second with 15.38m. However, McKinna was more than satisfied with her third-place finish in the West Midlands.
'It was a great competition for me, ending up third and just a little more than half a metre off my personal best at the end of a very long season,' she added.
'I have maybe one more meet left in me and I am starting to get a bit weary now, but that was a nice way to finish what has been a fantastic competition.'
• The McCain Challenge Competition – which covers Indoor, Outdoor track and field and Cross Country – is the country's premier domestic athletics series. Supported by UKA's Principal Partner McCain, the series provides top quality competition opportunities.