News & Updates

2 February 2023 • Track and Field

Nicole Bradley steps away from the sport

Nicole Bradley represented New Zealand at both the 2022 World Athletics Championships and Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Credit: (Alisha Lovrich).

New Zealand 2022 World Championship and Birmingham Commonwealth Games hammer representative Nicole Bradley has announced her retirement from the sport.

Bradley, 30, a five-time national senior champion and the all-time New Zealand number three in women’s hammer with a best of 70.45m, is satisfied with her career accomplishments and is looking forward to the next chapter of her life.

“I had an epiphany one morning just before Christmas when I started to think about wanting to do other things other than throw hammer,” explains Nicole. “The 2022 season had been a long and successful season. I had thrown 70m, won the Oceania title and competed at both the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, but I had reached the stage in my career when I had achieved all the goals, I ever thought were possible. The thought of training again did not seem so appealing, but I feel happy and fulfilled with what I have achieved in athletics.”

Born and raised in Dunedin, Nicole took up the sport of athletics at the age of eight with Leith Harrier and AC before later switching to Caversham Harrier and AC. She began her athletics journey as a sprinter before she was introduced to hammer at the age of 13 by coach Malcolm Giles.

She found an immediate passion for the discipline, earning national medals in the age groups and after heading north to study radiography in Auckland she joined North Harbour Bays Athletics.

It was here she initially came under the coaching guidance of Didier Poppe, and at the age of 21 in 2013 she claimed the first of her five national senior hammer titles. In 2015 she achieved another landmark moment in her career, smashing through the 60m barrier for the first time.

In 2016 she connected with her current coach, Mike Schofield, where she has continued to progress. Nicole claimed the last of her five national senior titles in 2019 the same year she won an Oceania bronze medal.

In December 2021 she enjoyed a huge breakthrough moment at AUT Millennium when she added almost three metres to her PB – unleashing a massive 70.07m throw. Nicole went on to better this mark at the 2022 Jennian Homes New Zealand Track & Field Championships in Hastings, registering a lifetime best of 70.45m to win silver behind Lauren Bruce.

More success came when she claimed the Oceania title in Mackay in June last year and she also competed at her first Black Singlet events at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where she placed ninth in the final.

“Hammer has given me so much over the years, it has been my happy place,” said Nicole. “It has taught me self-development, growth and other mental skills and made me a better person. My highlight was throwing 70m. That was a big personal goal of mine, and it was probably the happiest moment in my career.”

Nicole would like to say a big thank you to all her coaches and mentors throughout her career including Malcolm Giles, Raylene Bates, Didier Poppe and Mike Schofield as well as physio Peter Lee for all their unstinting support.

She feels privileged to have featured in a golden age of women hammer throwing in New Zealand alongside recently retired three-time Commonwealth Games medallist Julia Ratcliffe and Oceania record-holder Lauren Bruce, and she wishes Lauren and the next generation of hammer throwers her best wishes for the future.

Nicole, who works as a radiographer, plans some separation from athletics in the short-term but in the future hopes to return as a coach or official to give back to the sport she loves.

“Hopefully the likes of Lauren, Julia and I have lit the fire to show what is possible for other women’s hammer throwers in New Zealand,” explains Nicole. “As a little girl I would never have dreamed the hammer would take me as far as it has. I just hope I can act as an inspiration to others to show that anyone can compete at a World Championships or a Commonwealth Games, all it takes is hard work.”

Athletics NZ High Performance Director Scott Newman said: “Nicole is a fantastic example of an athlete whose dedication, commitment and subsequent continual improvement resulted in her achieving all her goals over her long career. She steps away having enjoyed the best year of her career in 2022, and she will be remembered as a quality competitor and highly respected member of the New Zealand throws community.”