As a teenager, Kathryn Mitchell ran the boundary line for senior football to keep fit.
The Olympic javelin thrower grew up in Casterton before moving to Ballarat for year 12 in 2000.
A year after the move, she set the Australian under-20s record with a 54-metre throw.
“In 2001, I knew then she had the capacity to go to the top level and combining not only what she demonstrated in her performances but also her attitude towards training because that’s probably the most important component,” former coach Lindsay Burgoyne said.
“I’ve coached a lot of talented athletes that have the ability but don’t have the motivation.”
Burgoyne scouted Mitchell at a national schools competition in Canberra in 1998, where he says he saw an explosive, unvarnished talent.
“She was extremely strong and had a lot of speed and she had some idea of the basics of throwing,” Burgoyne said.
“She had all the components she needed, she was just an extremely powerful country girl.
“She could quickly clean 100 kilos off the ground and onto her shoulders, she is just naturally explosive and strong.”
Mitchell is still her home town’s girl, Casterton Secondary College assistant principal John Webb said.
“We claim her; she did all her primary school and at least to the end of year 10 here and she when she can, she gets back to Casterton.”
Mr Webb said Mitchell’s athletic ability was evident from primary school.
“It would have been through primary school you could see she was going to be a good little athlete.
“To help her athletics she used to run the boundary in senior football and she was a very good boundary umpire and she did that for most of her schooling here.”
Rio will be Mitchell’s second Olympics after she placed ninth in the 2012 London Games.
Prior to London Olympics, Mitchell represented Australia at the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, where she finished sixth and fifth respectively.
Her personal best of 66.1 metres ranks her third among female javelin throwers in Australia and 157 in the world.
This year she has placed consistently in the top three in the International Association of Athletics Federation’s Diamond League.
Mitchell’s mum Robyn Winch said her daughter “continued to amaze her”.
“We're quite in awe of her.
“She's had an excellent season in Europe, won some fairly major Diamond League competitions and several places so I think her confidence will be as good as it can be.”
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