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Athletics: Three-time Commonwealth Games medalist Julia Ratcliffe calls time on hammer throw career

Julia Ratcliffe retires as a three-time Commonwealth Games medallist. Photo / Photosport

Julia Ratcliffe is hanging up her hammers.

The three-time Commonwealth Games hammer throw medallist has announced her retirement, stepping away from athletics after a successful career at the highest level of the sport.

Ratcliffe enjoyed plenty of success, winning Commonwealth gold in 2018 with silvers in 2014 and 2022, which in 2014 she became Princeton University’s first female track and field athlete to claim an NCAA title. She also competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games, finishing ninth.

Addressing her decision, the 29-year-old said while she knew she was capable of more, the cons outweighed the pros of working towards that.

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“I’ve done all the senior competitions available to me. I know I can throw further, but I also know what that would take out of me,” Ratcliffe said.

“The extra joy that would come from throwing another 50cm is not worth the blood, sweat and tears of all that hard training anymore.

“I look back with huge fondness on my time in the sport, I just now want to try something new.”

The Hamilton athlete has been competing in athletics since the age of six or seven, joining the Hamilton City Hawks club and dabbling in a range of codes. While she was a strong hurdler, she started in the hammer throw at the age of 12 and didn’t look back.

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With success in a range of youth competitions locally and internationally, Ratcliffe took that fire into the senior ranks.

While a shoulder injury in 2018 set her back, Ratcliffe battled back in a big way to claim gold in the Commonwealth Games the same year.

“Nothing can quite beat that feeling of standing on top of the podium, seeing the flag go up, hearing the national anthem, knowing you are the reason why that anthem is being played,” she recalled. “It was very special.”

Besides her trio of Commonwealth medals, Julia snared six national senior women’s hammer titles and set eight national senior women’s hammer records.

“When my career achievements are written down, it is quite overwhelming,” she said.

“I still think of myself as a kid from Hamilton who throws hammers in the backyard with dad. To think I went on to perform as a high-performance international athlete, and what dad and I went on to achieve together is very cool.”

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