European junior shot silver medallist named in seven-strong GB & NI team for Portugal

Sophie McKinna will be among the seven British athletes travelling to Leiria, Portugal, for the European Cup Winter Throws competition on March 15-16 and the European junior shot put silver medallist says she is looking forward to testing herself at the top level at this early stage of the year.

The 19-year-old was the UK No.1 in 2013 thanks to her national junior record of 17.12m which saw her become only the ninth British woman ever to have broken the 17m mark.

She went on to make her senior debut at the European Team Championships in Gateshead in June where she placed seventh before securing silver at the European Junior Championships in Rieti in July.

Now, having started the year with a win at the Vienna Indoor Classic and second behind Rachel Wallader at the UK Indoor Championships  in Sheffield, McKinna is eyeing another Glasgow 2014 qualifying mark.

“I’m really excited to be heading to Portugal and the European Winter Throws is very significant as it gives me a golden opportunity to hopefully achieve another Glasgow 2014 qualifying standard,” said McKinna. “It also gives me a great international competition early in the year to test myself at the top level.”

With the competition incorporating both under-23 and senior events, McKinna will contest the under-23 shot put, while Nick Percy will contest the under-23 discus.

The pair will be joined in Portugal by hammer throwers Andy Frost, Alex Smith, Sarah Holt and GB & NI senior debutante Shaunagh Brown, while Jade Lally will contest the discus.

This summer’s Glasgow Games are a big target for McKinna, who hopes to line up alongside the likes of her idol, New Zealand’s Valerie Adams.

“For the remainder of the season my main goal is to gain selection for the Commonwealth Games and to be able to go there and make the final,” said McKinna. “I’d also like to throw a personal best this year as long term I’d like to put the British under-23 record under pressure.”

Great Britain and Northern Ireland team:

Senior hammer:
 Alex Smith, Andy Frost
U23 discus: Nick Percy

Senior hammer: Sarah Holt, Shaunagh Brown
Senior discus: Jade Lally
U23 shot put: Sophie McKinna