Serpentine star on his mark, and set to take on the best

Serpentine star on his mark, and set to take on the best

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In six months Mitchell has gone from beginner to track star, ready to compete for his state.

If you’d have told Mitchell Warrilow when he started Little Athletics last year that in just six short months, he’d be heading to Adelaide to compete against the fastest sprinters in the country, he probably wouldn’t have believed it.

But there’s no denying his raw talent; in two weeks’ time, the thirteen-year-old from Serpentine will represent his state in four separate events at the Australian Athletics Championships.

Mitchell joined Melville Roar Athletics Club in October last year and instantly clicked with the track events.

“One time I just decided to run as fast as I could, and I won. It felt good,” he said.

“Then I started to do well at all my events.

“I’ve done a lot of sports – hockey, surf lifesaving – but nothing quite hits like running.”

He was chosen to represent his club at the WA State Relay Championships in December, where he ran the 200m-leg of the Swedish Relay, and was the fourth runner in the 4x100m relay.

“I was excited to be on the team and representing my club. But I was also nervous,” he said.

“It was my first time running on a track, and with a starter gun.”

But Mitchell is one of those enviable athletes who converts nerves into mileage.

That adrenaline boost saw him run faster than he ever had before, and his team brought home the gold in the Swedish Relay and silver in the 4x100m.

Mitchell was all set to compete in the sprints at the WA State Track and Field Championships in February. But, being newbies to the sport, Mitchell and his mum, Danielle, hadn’t banked on the possibility of last-minute race scheduling changes.

The pair rocked up to the WA Athletics Stadium to find his events had already been run.

Mitchell put his devastation aside, and elected to compete in the 200m hurdle event, on a whim.

“We thought, why not? We’re here – the worst that could happen is he doesn’t win,” Danielle said.

He’d practised hurdles a handful of times with his club, but never thought of himself as a serious contender.

“This was the real deal – I saw all these kids looking really fast and sporty in their spikes, and I didn’t even know how to wear mine,” he said.

But he refused to let that intimidate him.

Mitchell cleared the hurdles like the Duracell Bunny, and ended up finishing with a national-level time (29.55 seconds), securing his place in the Australian Championships.

“I was shocked when I got in – I thought I was going to be smashed,” he said.

Then, during a recent Strive athletics event, Mitchell ran another national time in the 400m hurdles event, marking his place at the nationals for a second individual event.

He’s also secured a place on both the Men’s Under 16 4x100m and 4x200m relay teams.

His mum thinks Mitchell’s athletic edge stems from his early childhood.

When he was young, he had a mild physical condition that affected how he moved.

Through perseverance and passion, he’s learned to overcome those initial challenges – mental skills that will undoubtedly reward him in his future athletic endeavours.

For a thirteen-year-old, Mitchell is an incredibly switched-on kid.

While he dreams big of making the Australian team and running for his country at the Commonwealth Games, he’s also keeping himself grounded.

“I’m aiming high, but as a reality check, I’m just focussing on going there and trying my best,” he said.

“To go from not even knowing how to set my blocks up two weeks ago, to running at a national level – I’m pretty happy about that.”

Olympic hurdler Lynette Foreman has seen something in the Serpentine sprinter and has taken him under her wing.

And he has the support of his Serpentine community, with offers of sponsorship from local businesses beginning to emerge.

But as his star rises, so do the costs associated.

So, Danielle and Dean Warrilow are hopeful there might be more businesses willing to help their son become the next big thing.

Whatever happens in Adelaide in April, one thing is for sure … this is not the last time you’ll see the name Mitchell Warrilow.