Six-foot hammer thrower Holt out to buck sport’s stereotype

As a young girl, Sarah Holt excelled at so many sports that she had the pick of which she would concentrate on.

Commonwealth Games hammer thrower Sarah Holt of Cleckheaton. (d27061169)

The Cleckheaton girl was a powerful swimmer, as well as a reliable member of the netball and football teams.

But her first love was for track and field, and her approach to athletics was the same as it was to every sport – wide-ranging.

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She tried discus, javelin, shot putt, and even sprinting. But it was the hammer throw that would define her sporting career.

In Glasgow next week the 27-year-old competes in her chosen sport at the Commonwealth Games, looking to claim the medal that would propel her towards her ultimate goal – the Rio Olympics.

“I took to hammer quicker than the other sports and I thought if I want to get to the stage where I’m competing in the big global events, then the hammer would be my best route,” said Holt, who at 6’ and just 80kg does not meet the image of a typical hammer thrower.

“The stereotype doesn’t really help the sport but it’s moving away from the bigger women nowadays.

“I spend a lot of training time throwing different weights.

“I lift in the gym just to build strength and power, and I do circuit training and all the other warm-up and warm-down runs you’d expect of an athlete.

“So it’s still a sport about power, but we’re a bit more athletic.”

Glasgow is Holt’s second Commonwealth Games after Delhi four years ago. She set her personal best of 68m 50cm in 2012 but missed out on Olympic selection, while her campaign last year was wiped out by a virus.

“Delhi was a great experience and I’ve been to a European Championships, but this is the biggest so far because it’s so close to home,” says Holt, who spends time each year training in Oregon or California.

“I took a lot from Delhi. It was my first multi-event Games and first experience of living in an athletes’ village. You don’t think about this until you’re there but you don’t realise how much dead time there is, so it’s about managing your preparation and your
recovery and training.

“On paper I’m fourth in the field in terms of a personal best, but personal bests count for nothing when the Games comes around. Hopefully a good week here is a stepping stone to Rio.”