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Commonwealth champion Julia Ratcliffe learned hammer throw in the backyard

Many of New Zealand’s greatest rugby players and cricketers developed their skills in the backyard, but Commonwealth champion Julia Ratcliffe is probably the first to learn the hammer throw at home.

The Ratcliffes’ home facility is the perfect training ground for track and field's latest star with a total of 27 hammers, the lightest being 2kg and the heaviest being 8kg.

"Dad was out in the back yard with the 100 metre tape measuring out the logistics of where the hammer circle would go," Ratcliffe said.

It was high stakes for Ratcliffe’s dad and coach, Dave.

"If we would have hit the house my wife would have said 'off you go'," he said.

Surprisingly, it didn't start with the hammer for the 24-year-old, she showed promise in the hurdles, winning the North Island champs but found out the hard way running wasn't her thing.

"She would run 100 metres, she would get left for dead, everybody would always beat her, she was quite explosive but she wasn't really built to run anything over 20 metres," her dad said.

From plodder to an explosive thrower, Ratcliffe's victory on the Gold Coast her best result to date.

The Princeton economics graduate is taking some time away from the hammer after shouldering an injury for almost a year.

"So the joints that attach your collar bone to your sternum, so they were subluxing, so partially dislocating," Ratcliffe said.

She'll focus on rehab before eyeing up her next big event, the world champs in October next year.

Then it'll be Tokyo and the chance to compete at her first Olympics.

Trained by her dad in the backyard, Ratcliffe is the country's latest athletics star, even if running wasn't her thing. Source: 1 NEWS


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