Mitchell hits ground running as she guns for third Olympics

By Meg Saultry

Victoria Mitchell is easily considered the fastest woman in Benalla.

But it is not every day a nine-month-old baby is racking up the same speeds as a two-time Olympian.

Setting off every morning for a 10 km run around Benalla, Mitchell is joined by daughter Skye in what are her first steps towards qualifying for a third Olympics.

In a pre-COVID-19 world, the Tokyo Olympics’ would have finished last Sunday.

But it would have been without Mitchell.

The postponement of the summer Games, now scheduled for June 2021, has been a blessing in disguise for the long-distance runner.

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At 38 years old, another 12 months gives Mitchell one final chance to qualify and represent Australia in the 3 km steeplechase, an event she competed in at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics.

It’s also a chance to push past a disappointing last race.

“My last big competition was the Commonwealth Games in 2018, but I had appendix surgery 13 days before. I still ran but didn’t go so well,” she said.

After giving birth to Skye in 2019, Mitchell began training at the start of this year for nationals and the Olympics, but soon realised it would be a hard task to be ready in time.

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A series of complications post-birth also made the road back more difficult.

“I had started training after having bubs,” Mitchell said. “But I’ve got an umbilical hernia and had pretty bad abdomen separation so was also thinking, did I need to fix that? I scrapped it and thought it wasn’t going to happen.”

“Then COVID-19 came along and it’s in my favour.”

Now Tokyo is on the horizon once again and, although there are still no guarantees if coronavirus’ worldwide effects continue into 2021, Mitchell has ramped up her training once again.

“I’ve restarted again and I’m booked to get the hernia fixed this month, which should only put me out for a few weeks,” she said.

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Even as interstate athletes begin to return to competition, Mitchell remains more isolated in Victoria under state-wide restrictions.

However, her goal for the foreseeable future is to continue to tackle Benalla’s terrain.

“It’s a build at the moment. I’m logging heaps of kilometres. I've gone from zero to 90 km and will keep going to get a really good base,” Mitchell said.

“Then I’ll add intensity into my sessions.”

Completing two or three sessions a week alongside morning runs, Mitchell also adds in gym sessions at home.

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She is also making waves off the track, recently signing a sponsorship deal with Swedish company Thule, which has provided the runner with a high-performance jogging stroller.

It means Skye has a brand-new chariot to cruise around Benalla in.

“I think she enjoys being up higher and going faster,” Mitchell said.

With the model allowing Mitchell to pick up the pace with Skye on board, the infant could now well and truly be destined to follow in her mother's footsteps as the fastest in Benalla.

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