Sarah Mitton has her eyes set on more hardware this weekend, specifically a diamond.
The Brooklyn, N.S., native will be competing in the women’s shot put Diamond League final on Saturday in Eugene, Ore. She is one of four Canadians competing at the Prefontaine Classic, with Marco Arop (800 metres), Andre De Grasse (200) and Aaron Brown (200) all running on Sunday at Hayward Field.
Having won silver at the world championships in August, Mitton is driven by the thought of earning her first Diamond League trophy.
“I don’t know, have you seen the Diamond League trophies? The big diamond. I would say that’s what’s driving me,” she said. “To be a Diamond League winner is pretty cool.
“That and the PB [personal best], I would say really would be the motivation for the season. I wanna highlight how hard I’ve worked but it’s also a pretty major accomplishment to win the Diamond League final.”
Mitton earned her first world championship medal – her primary goal of the season – with a season-best 20.08-metre throw in Budapest, Hungary. Mitton – whose personal best of 20.33 came at last year’s national championships – however, feels she has more in the tank.
“It’s tricky because with worlds, it was hard to have, I would say that big, big performance,” Mitton said. “I felt really ready to have a bigger throw than I did and my last throw at worlds was further but I just fouled it by a small margin.
“I do think I haven’t had that result this season that really shows how hard I worked this year and the changes I’ve been able to make technically.”
Mitton won silver after placing fourth by the smallest of margins in 2022. The 27-year-old was tied for bronze with the Netherlands’ Jessica Schilder but lost her spot on the podium on a tiebreaker, with Schilder having had the next furthest throw.
So earning a medal, rightfully so, came with celebration. However, with the season not yet finished and more work to be done, she had to put it on hold until the season’s conclusion this weekend.
Mitton’s journey to the Diamond League final included a second-place finish with an 18.86-metre throw in rainy conditions in Thum, Germany, on Sept. 1. She secured her spot in Saturday’s final with a 19.76-metre throw in a Diamond League meet in Brussels on Sept. 7.
“It’s tricky because worlds isn’t the end of the season,” she said. “So as much as that’s the focus of the season and we’re gearing up for that, we get to revel in that for a few days and then we come down to this emotional high, obviously when you do well, and then you kind of have to put that on hold for a second so that you can finish off the rest of business.”
“There’s a bit of a high,” Mitton’s coach Richard Parkinson added. “There’s a high in excitement level at worlds and then when you come off that, it’s a feeling of being down a little bit because you were on such a high level of a stage. The fans, the full arena, the stadium, et cetera.”
With the Brussels’ meet in mind, the name of the city itself became a code word – a mental cue – whenever her attention began to waver.
If her concentration was slipping, it was code word “Brussels.”
If someone offered her a beer, the response was the same: “Brussels.”
“[It was] just to bring back the attention that that’s why we decided to stay in Europe versus coming home,” he said.
Drawing a parallel to golf, Parkinson has consistently emphasized the significance of relaxation and trusting one’s mechanics. He has taken his athletes to a course in Tucson, Ariz., to instill this concept in their training routines.
“There’s days that I golf that I’ll set up the first tee and I just work on being relaxed and hitting the mechanics and it just takes off,” he said. “And I go, ‘Wow, I didn’t put any effort into that.’ The second hole, I’m grabbing that club [thinking] ‘I am gonna murder this ball, I am gonna swing as hard as I can’ and now I am looking for an $8 ball.
“That’s what it’s like trying to throw the shot. You’ve already got the adrenalin going, everything’s rushing through your body you don’t need to try any harder. You actually need to probably slow it down and try less.”
And the message is understood by Mitton.
“Mentally on, physically relaxed,” she said.