Feel the golden ripple effects from Kathryn Mitchell’s gold | From the Press Box with Melanie Whelan

FLYING: Ballarat javelin thrower Kathryn Mitchell worked closely with a sports psychology to unleash and trust her game more. The result was Commonwealth Games gold, her journey an inspiration. Picture: AP
FLYING: Ballarat javelin thrower Kathryn Mitchell worked closely with a sports psychology to unleash and trust her game more. The result was Commonwealth Games gold, her journey an inspiration. Picture: AP

OPINION

KATHRYN Mitchell’s gold medal win will continue to have an impact in Ballarat for a long time.

This is about far more than winning. Mitchell’s Commonwealth Games gold represents persistence and, ultimately, belief. 

Mitchell’s primary training base is at Llanberris Reserve where young Eureka stablemates like to keep a keen eye on how she trains. The weights and sled work she does as an elite athlete particularly impresses them.

What they liked most though, was the low-key humble way Mitchell goes about fine-tuning her game at Llanberris. They say showmanship in sport can be cool, like Usain Bolt, but determination to chase a dream does not always need the flair. You could be like Mitchell.

IMPACT: Eureka's Will Barber, Hein Reimert, Gracie-Lee Egner, Ben Ludbrook and Ben Mornane watch closely how Kathryn Mitchell quietly works. Picture: Kate Healy

IMPACT: Eureka's Will Barber, Hein Reimert, Gracie-Lee Egner, Ben Ludbrook and Ben Mornane watch closely how Kathryn Mitchell quietly works. Picture: Kate Healy

Gold is the result of Mitchell letting go and trusting herself more to be the best she possibly can.

Mitchell unleashed an Australian and Commonwealth record throw of 68.92 metres in her first attempt in Carrara Stadium on Wednesday night. It was the furthest distance ever chalked up in women’s javelin on Australian soil and follows Mitchell’s two national records staked in the summer.

The enormity in what Mitchell pulled off finally showed on her face in her sixth and final throw of the night.

Sitting in the stands, equally as emotional, was long-time mentor Lindsay Burgoyne. The Ballarat athletics coach, who oversaw Mitchell’s early career, says the 35-year-old’s approach to the javelin continues to motivate him both as a coach and in his new sporting challenges as a cyclist.

Burgoyne says there was talk on the Gold Coast likening Mitchell to tennis evergreen Roger Federer in how they reinvent themselves, smarter rather than harder, constantly tweaking different aspects of their games. But they do so always in a view to keep improving on the elite stage.

Burgoyne remembers a young Mitchell was a lot like most junior athletes, feeling what their discipline was all about. The difference was her unparallelled passion for excellence.

JOURNEY: Ballarat athletics coach Lindsay Burgoyne watched Kathryn Mitchell progress from a promising junior (inset right) to a Commonwealth champion on the Gold Coast on Wednesday night.

JOURNEY: Ballarat athletics coach Lindsay Burgoyne watched Kathryn Mitchell progress from a promising junior (inset right) to a Commonwealth champion on the Gold Coast on Wednesday night.

Amid all the ups and downs, Mitchell now knows so much about her own body, her capabilities and her sport – and she is still learning.

German Uwe Hohn, the world’s only man to have thrown a javelin more than 100 metres, has helped Mitchell to master the technical, challenging discipline the past eight years.

In turn, Burgoyne has enjoyed learning from them in what he calls “penny-drop” moments in new perspective and understanding for his coaching. These physical and mental lessons filter back into the region’s promising junior ranks, helping to inspire them to improve no matter what challenge they tackle in life.

I watched her develop as a athlete, like any junior, learning to feel what it’s all about. I’m now learning a lot from Kathryn, and from Uwe, who both have a greater understanding for the event.

Lindsay Burgoyne

Gold emphasises dreams can become a reality with hard work.

Mitchell’s gold has evoked pride across Ballarat and Casterton, the town in which she grew up, with mayors for both regions praising her efforts and result as a true role model.

Javelin may not be track and field’s headline act but gold shone a light on Mitchell’s story – and there is something we can all take from that.