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Sarah Mitton regaining elite shot put form ahead of Canadian, world championships | CBC Sports


Sarah Mitton learned the importance of being prepared for shot put competition long before setting Canadian records, competing at world championships and Olympics, and making an impact on the Diamond League professional circuit.

The 2019 FISU World University Games was the first time she was asked to compete in the morning and evening.

“It’s hard to do,” said the University of Windsor (Ont.) alumna, “because you’re asking your nervous system to respond twice a day despite being fatigued. [I] probably [simulated it in training] five or six times before heading to the Games.”

When Mitton arrived at the shot circle for the women’s final in Naples, she spotted five or six of her opponents complaining of being tired.

“It felt like they were dragging,” the Toronto resident recalled in an interview with CBC Sports before flying to B.C. for this week’s Canadian track and field championships in Langley. “I remember [being] full of energy and excitement. Before the competition started, I knew I was going to win because I was the most prepared.”

Mitton, then 23, won Canada’s first gold medal at the event with a final throw of 18.31 metres, nearly 50 centimetres longer than her nearest competitor, for her first international podium finish.

While Mitton is determined to successfully defend her national title on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET, she has spent months gearing up for an altered women’s format at the Aug. 19-27 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

On Aug. 26, the qualifying round will be held at 10:25 a.m. local time and the final less than 10 hours later at 8:15 p.m.

At worlds last summer in Eugene, Ore., where Mitton fell one cm short of a bronze medal, women’s shot putters had over 24 hours rest between qualifying and the final.

WATCH l Mitton reflects on narrow medal miss at 2022 world championships:

Canada’s Sarah Mitton finishes 4th in women’s shot put at the World Athletics Championships

Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn, N.S., scored a 19.77 to earn a 4th place finish in women’s shot put at the World Athletics Championships.

Mitton, who grew up in Brooklyn, N.S., opened her 2023 indoor season in Windsor throwing a practice session in the morning before competing that evening at the 40th annual Can Am Classic and raising her Canadian record to 19.80. She also competed in the morning and evening to open her outdoor season May 20 in Tucson, Ariz.

Learning to work through being tired, mentally and physically, makes you a better competitor.— Sarah Mitton on adjusting to morning and evening training sessions

Recently, coach Rich Parkinson introduced a three-day cycle of training, with Mitton throwing and lifting weights on Day 1. Day 2 begins with a 10:30 a.m. throw and lifting, followed by an evening throw session before a recovery day.

“I pretty much spend my whole day training,” she said, “but I think it’ll be worth my while because every time I do it, I feel a bit better and throw a bit further.

“I think I’m getting used to it. I remember feeling sleepy halfway through the competition in Windsor. Learning to work through being tired, mentally and physically, makes you a better competitor.

‘Starting to find that throw again’

“It’s a new beast for everyone,” continued Mitton, who met the 18.80 world entry standard last August with a throw of 19.03 to win Commonwealth Games gold. “Some Eastern European athletes train twice a day as part of their regime, so they’ll have an advantage. But I think you’re at a disadvantage if you’re not doing it.”

Mitton believes she is close to regaining the form that led to throwing a Canadian record 20.33 for her second straight senior national title on June 25, 2022 at McLeod Stadium in Langley.

“I’m still four weeks out from Budapest and starting to find that throw again, even more so than the indoor season,” she said. “Now that I’m in that groove, I feel I’ll be in the high 19s and 20s consistently.”

Two weeks ago, Mitton threw a season-best 19.83 in the same circle at McLeod Stadium, one of five tosses above 19 metres en route to victory at the Harry Jerome Track Classic. She will compete in her lucky circle Saturday after organizers moved the event from a different location at the stadium following a request form Mitton and her coach, Rich Parkinson.

“Two of my [career] best performances have come in that circle, so why not put me in the best position to throw far?” said Mitton, who won her first Diamond League event on June 15 at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, after placing second at the 2022 Final.

Mitton’s recent success has coincided with a return to health. She developed bone chips in her right elbow at the start of the year from overuse and endured soreness throughout her indoor campaign. After taking three weeks off from throwing following a Feb. 22 event in Madrid, the pain subsided and Mitton threw 19.58 in Tucson.

WATCH | Mitton wins 1st Diamond League event on June 15 in Oslo, Norway:

Canada’s Sarah Mitton captures her 1st ever Diamond League shot put victory

Sarah Mitton of Brooklyn, N.S., won the shot put event with her first throw of 19.54 metres at the Diamond League meet in Oslo.

A four-event stretch of throws under 19 metres followed, Mitton noted, due to illness and struggles with a significant technical change. But she has since reverted to her previous “standard” rotational technique and thrown 19.09 or further at five of six competitions.

“I’m looking at getting [the bone chips] potentially removed in the future but going into the [2024] Olympic season coming off surgery wasn’t something I was looking forward to,” said Mitton, who didn’t advance from the qualifying round at her 2020 Summer Games debut in Tokyo. “It’s been a big relief getting a handle on it.”

Mitton will be among 1,330-plus senior, U20 and Para athletes at the four-day nationals, which begins Thursday, the last competition for many of them to achieve the automatic entry standard for worlds before the qualifying window closes Sunday.

Ahmed, DeBues-Stafford not competing

Several elite senior-level athletes will be in attendance: sprinters Aaron Brown, Andre De Grasse, middle-distance runner Marco Arop, decathletes Damian Warner and Pierce LePage, hammer throwers Camryn Rogers and Ethan Katzberg, along with two-time defending men’s high jump champion Django Lovett.

Distance runner Moh Ahmed, who is based in Portland, Ore., and won the Ottawa 10K road race in late May, is exempt from nationals while Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, a four-time national champion in the 1,500, won’t race for undisclosed reasons.

Brown, the lone men’s athlete with the standard in the 200 metres, is eyeing his eyeing a fifth consecutive Canadian title in the sprint double.

Long-awaited medal ceremony

“I feel good. I had a chance to rest and train before nationals and I’m excited to see where I’m at leading into worlds,” said Brown, who last raced July 2 in Stockholm in the 100.

He will also receive an upgraded 2020 Olympic silver medal with relay teammates Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and De Grasse on Saturday. They initially earned bronze in Tokyo two years ago.

Athletics Canada head coach Glenroy Gilbert told CBC Sports he’s hopeful the country’s athletes continue to be focused on competing at the highest level when it counts most through the Paris Olympics next summer.

“We’ve got athletes in all the event groups performing well and a world-class level,” he said, “and I see nationals being fiercely competitive.”

Canadian sprinters posed with bronze medals around their neck after the 2020 Olympic men's 4x100-metre final.
From left: Aaron Brown, Jerome Blake, Brendon Rodney and Andre De Grasse hold bronze medals after the 2020 Olympic men’s 100-metre relay final in Tokyo. On Saturday in Langley, B.C., they will be presented upgrade silver medals after the British team was disqualified in May 22 due to a doping violation by team member CJ Ujah. (Javier Soriano/AFP via Getty Images/File)


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