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World's best throw this season for Canadian shot putter Sarah Mitton

LANGLEY, B.C. — A day before unleashing the longest shot put by a woman in the world this year, Sarah Mitton and coach Richard Parkinson posed for a photo. They didn't dare post it, lest they jinx it.
Sarah Mitton competes in the women’s shot put final at the Canadian Track and Field Olympic trials, in Montreal, Friday, June 25, 2021. The 26-year-old from Brooklyn, N.S., threw 20.33 metres with her sixth and final throw to win the Canadian championships. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

LANGLEY, B.C. — A day before unleashing the longest shot put by a woman in the world this year, Sarah Mitton and coach Richard Parkinson posed for a photo.

They didn't dare post it, lest they jinx it.

Standing in front of a sign that read "Shot put" at McLeod Athletic Park, Mitton held up two fingers. Parkinson curled his hand into a zero. Twenty metres. That was the goal. 

With her sixth and final throw on Saturday, the 26-year-old from Brooklyn, N.S., sent the shot soaring 20.33 metres at the Canadian track and field championships, oblitering the national record she'd set a month earlier.

"Over the moon. I knew the second it left my hand it was a big one," Mitton said through a wide grin. "It feels so good. I was super excited. And then I saw it was well over 20 and I lost my mind."

Mitton's previous record was 19.58 set in Hamilton in May. Her top throw last season was 18.89. She broke the 19-metre barrier with a Canadian-indoor record toss of 19.16 in February, but has since breezed through 19-metre territory, with barely time to soak it in.

"I've been chasing 20 ever since I hit 19," she said. "I really feel like I'm coming into my own. It's been really crazy to see how far I've come. Four years ago I was debating whether I would do this full-time or not. It's pretty crazy to be world No. 1 right now."

China's Song Jiayuon threw 20.20 on May 28, the previous season's best throw.

Mitton's huge throw is a big boost of confidence less than a month from the world championships in Eugene, Ore. 

Parkinson knew she had a 20-metre throw in her, but was surprised it came at the national championships. They haven't started tapering workouts for the worlds. She's been doing heavy lifting sessions in the weight room this week.

"The other day she was complaining about her legs being sore (from a heavy squatting session)."

Mitton put on a show for the small but vocal crowd gathered around the shot put circle. After making 19.29 look easy with one of her preliminary-round throws, she had two big throws in the second round that were both flagged as fouls. Fans, coaches and her competitors cheered her on when she stepped into the circle. 

She let out a guttural scream when the shot left her hand. The crowd hollered when it dropped just beyond the 20-metre marker. It took officials several minutes to carefully measure the distance.

Brittany Crew of Mississauga, Ont., the previous Canadian indoor and outdoor record-holder, has been battling back from injury. She was second with 16.39, while Grace Tennant won bronze with 15.79.

Parkinson said Mitton's confidence shifted at the world indoor championships, when she was flagged for a foul but protested and won.

"Standing in that circle and demanding the protest … I thought, boy, look at that," Parkinson said. "And I was so proud of her standing the circle, because as soon as you leave the circle, you can't protest. So, she stood her ground and the officials overturned it, and she made it into the final."

She finished seventh.

"I think that was really the turning point from her saying, 'You know what? I think I can do this,' to "Hey, I can do this.'" 

Canada will send a couple of world-class women throwers to Eugene. Camryn Rogers has the fourth-best hammer throw in the world this year, with her huge Canadian and NCAA record of 77.67 she set recently. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press