Commonwealth Games 2018: Victoria Mitchell competes on Gold Coast days after appendix surgery – Commonwealth Games 2018
Victoria Mitchell finished ninth in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase final on day seven of the Commonwealth Games. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
For Victoria Mitchell to simply make it to the start line on the Gold Coast, she had already won her race.
- Victoria Mitchell discovered her appendix was gangrenous weeks before event
- Mitchell finished ninth in the 3,000m steeplechase final
- Friends and family motivated her to make the start line
Mitchell, for much of the past fortnight, appeared to have almost no hope of competing at a third Commonwealth Games after she was forced to undergo an appendectomy.
On the Monday before the Easter weekend Mitchell made a trip to the hospital after experiencing stomach pains, only to be diagnosed with a virus and sent home.
The pain intensified and she returned to the hospital to undergo a CT scan, which revealed she had appendicitis.
On the Wednesday, two weeks to the day before Mitchell was due to run in the 3,000 metres steeplechase final at the Games, she had her appendix removed but her troubles did not stop there.
Doctors discovered her appendix was gangrenous and she was forced to remain in hospital because of infection until the following Saturday.
“There was pus all in my pelvis. It was gross, very nasty,” Mitchell bluntly described.
“The infection was so nasty.”
vicmitchell1 Instagram: I’m only going ONE WAY —> to the @commgamesaus !! Recovering rapidly and I am going to keep going!
Athletics Australia (AA) was monitoring Mitchell’s condition and they gave her a week to prove her fitness.
The 35-year-old satisfied AA’s requirements at a training session last Thursday, having only resumed track work two days before, and she received the news on Saturday that she was cleared to compete on the Gold Coast.
If Mitchell, who did not finish her course of antibiotics until last weekend, had chosen to give up on her dream no-one would have questioned her decision.
While the two-time Olympian acknowledged her competitive instincts kicked in, there was a motivating factor above all others that made sure she was never going to quit.
“I didn’t want to let my family and friends down, who were coming up here,” she said.
“I had to make the start line.”
There were times, however, when it appeared the decision was going to be taken out of Mitchell’s hands.
“On the Friday night [after surgery] I thought there was no way I was getting out,” Mitchell said.
“I was still spiking fevers and still having lots of antibiotics. I just felt the worst. The doctors said I was 50-50 but being an athlete we just hustle.”
Mitchell ‘hoping for more’
The fact Mitchell finished ninth in the 3,000m steeplechase final at Carrara Stadium on Wednesday night, well below the expectations she placed on herself, is immaterial.
She slipped to the back of the field early in the race but illustrated her competitive nature when she overtook Scotland’s Lennie Waite late on to stop the clock in 10 minutes and 12.59 seconds.
Mitchell, who lost around 3 kilograms because of the bout of appendicitis, is her harshest critic.
It was not surprising, therefore, that she preferred to break down her performance rather than reflect on the inspiring journey she endured just to get to the Games.
“I was always hoping for more,” Mitchell said.
“I hung on for the slow pace, which is nice, but I just didn’t have it in my legs with two weeks of hardly any training and being sick and on antibiotics. I did as well as I could.”
Mitchell’s rivals feel she did better than that.
Genevieve LaCaze, who finished fifth, perhaps summed up Mitchell’s effort best, when she described her Australian teammate as “unique”.
“I don’t know one other human who would go through what she went through and then fight her way back on to this track,” LaCaze said.
“So, hats off to her … I think everyone needs to step back and appreciate what she went through.”