Victorian Institute of Sport

Kathryn the great

Monday, 06 August 2018

As Mitchell approached the runway for her final throw at Gold Coast 2018, the display of raw emotion was truly inspiring. The enormity in what Mitchell had achieved was realised, the tears came and she was overcome with what she’d finally done at her fourth Games.

This is about far more than winning. Kathryn Mitchell’s Commonwealth Games gold represents a journey of joy, disbelief, love, and struggle.

With emotions running high, Mitchell tried to contain herself by focusing on the process that Coach Uwe Hohn and Victorian Institute of Sport Psychologist, Mark Spargo had imparted.

“As the final round started to close out and I knew I would probably win, I started to think about all the things that Uwe and Mark had told me and the things we had to overcome and work through,” Mitchell explained.

“It was at that moment I fully understood trust. It was hard to believe what had just unfolded.”

Rewind to the start of the competition, it was safe to say that Mitchell had all but wrapped up the gold medal on her opening throw, rewriting the Australian and Commonwealth records to a mammoth 68.92m and etching her name into VIS folklore as the 100th VIS gold medal in Commonwealth Games history.

“My first throw was just to be like all others I had done this season. Focus on my process and nothing else,” Mitchell said.

“I didn’t want to think that I’d won already because we had the whole competition to go but I knew it would be very difficult for the other girls to beat.”

The performance at Gold Coast 2018 not only cemented herself as the greatest the country has ever seen, but now the seventh best throw in the world of all-time with fire in the belly burning for greater success.

“Seventh all-time is a great achievement. However, I think there is much more left in the tank. I am concentrating on my health and I’m excited about what is possible,” Mitchell said.

“I definitely have distance targets that I’d love to achieve but recently I’ve started to let go of these and just let the gates of possibility swing open.”

The mindset of Mitchell this season has been to concentrate on the process and the results will follow. Achieving this mindset wasn’t an easy task for Mitchell, but she knew it was necessary if the next step in her career was to be taken.

With guidance from experienced VIS Sport Psychologist, Spargo, the pair have been able to rewire her thought processes to spark an upward trend to greatness.

“I have always been a totally results-focused athlete, as far back as I can remember. A big part of my sense of self is woven into outcome,” Mitchell said.

“When I first met Mark and we started to talk about my approach, it was very difficult for me to see how I would be able to let go of that results-focus after so long. I knew though I had to find a better way and I knew I had to open myself up and trust him.

“Mark helped me find myself again and start to rediscover the person behind the athlete. I took each session we did and then did a lot of my own internal work - reading, listening to podcasts, learning a more spiritual approach for myself.

“We then worked on the process on the runway. I practiced the things we had worked out which allowed the results to just take care of themselves.”

Reaching the dais was a special moment for a number of reasons, Gold Coast 2018 will go down as Mitchell’s first time on the podium at a major senior international competition after five near-misses at Olympic, World Championship and Commonwealth level.

Amid all the ups and downs, at last the moment was hers, the national anthem echoed throughout Cararra Stadium.

“I told Uwe and Mark a few days before the final that just once I would love to feel the ‘winning moment’ - that moment just after the end of competition when you have done it and you get your medal and listen to the National Anthem. I’ve always wondered how great that would be,” Mitchell said.

“Mark told me I would get my moment if I concentrated on the process. He was right. The fact that I was able to experience it at a home Games will live in me forever.”

Looking to the future, the 35-year-old envisioned she would retire after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but after reaching new heights she has a wise outlook on the future.

“Maybe I’ve continued to endure because I didn’t have that improvement that perhaps most successful athletes have in their 20s. So I’m still exploring my potential. As long as my body can do it, there is no reason to stop,” Mitchell said.

“I understand that age eventually has its limitations, but if we didn’t keep track of our ages and only did things based on what we could still do physically I think we would surprise ourselves.”

More articles from Pinnacle Magazine can be found here

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