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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Bendigo born Mitchell Watt going for gold

Bendigo born Mitchell Watt going for gold

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1 Bendigo born Mitchell Watt going for gold on Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:09 am



Bendigo-born star aims for gold

Bendigo Advertiser
26 Aug, 2011

No-one was more surprised than Mitchell Watt when the world championships bronze medal was draped around his neck two years ago in Berlin.

How times have changed.

Watt was born in Bendigo in March, 1988. He only lived in the city for a short time before his parents relocated to Queensland.

Watt was a national junior long jump champion by the time he was 14 before spending five years away from athletics.

He became a schoolboy rugby union star before being coaxed back to athletics in 2008.

He is now the red-hot favourite to win gold in the long jump at the world titles starting in Daegu tomorrow.

It’s an expectation that now sits comfortably with Watt, who owns the top four jumps in the world this year, including a huge leap of 8.54m in Stockholm which bettered the national record set by silver medallist Jai Taurima at the Sydney Olympics.

“In 2009 I was looking at these guys who used to jump 8.20m every week and I was like ‘I don’t know how they do it’,” said Watt.

“Now, I am pretty much doing 8.30s and 8.40s each time I compete.

“In Berlin I remember doing media beforehand and there was talk of a medal and I just thought you guys were joking – I was honestly not expecting to get a medal there.

“It’s definitely a lot different this time around.

“I have said it a few times, but I would be disappointed if I don’t end up with the gold.

“That’s going to put a bit of extra pressure on me saying that but, I mean, it’s the truth.”

Watt got his 2011 campaign off to a flying start with a huge winning jump of 8.44m at the Australian trials in April.

He jumped the same distance in Shanghai in May, followed by the record-breaking effort of 8.54m in Stockholm.

Watt rounded off his European campaign perfectly with victory at the London Diamond League meet early this month with 8.45m.

High performance manager Eric Hollingsworth reckons Watt probably soared 8.80m at Crystal Palace, as he planted his foot well before the take-off board.

After having some trouble with a bruised heel earlier in the year, Watt and his coach Gary Bourne have taken a relaxed attitude to training since arriving in Daegu.

He hasn’t been doing any jump sessions, preferring to focus on speed work and some weights training.

“My jump is pretty much all speed and strength anyway,” said the 23-year-old.

“So long as I am fast and I have got the power there – I’m not all about technique – so if I can get down that runway fast enough, I’ll be fine.”

Watt has singled out Panama’s reigning Olympic champion Irving Saladino as his biggest challenger for the gold medal.

American Dwight Phillips – who won the third of his world titles two years in Berlin – is a wildcard, having only jumped sparingly in 2011.

Then there’s multi-talented Zimbabwean Ngonidzashe Makusha, who became only the fourth man ever to do the 100m-long jump double at the US college championships this year, joining the likes of Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens.

Watt’s countryman Fabrice Lapierre has yet to go near matching the heights of 2010, when he won gold at the world indoors and the Commonwealth Games – a meet Watt missed with injury.

Lapierre’s best jump of the year is a modest 8.02m – 38cm shy of his PB.

The qualifying round is on September 1, with the final scheduled for the following day.

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