Wellsford’s Mitch Joynt will represent New Zealand in the 100m and 200m sprint races at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai next month.
The 24-year-old qualified for the World Champs at the Australian Athletics Championships in Sydney last April, where he ran the 200m sprint in 24 seconds flat, shedding 1.08 seconds off his previous personal best time.
Mitch will attend a pre-camp in Darwin at the end of this month.
“For other competitions, you just show up on the day, run the race and that’s it,” he says. “This time, there will be training days and rest days where I don’t have to go to work – I’ll get to live like a proper athlete.”
Mitch was spotted by Athletics New Zealand three years ago while running in the Auckland marathon.
“I just did the marathon to tick it off my bucket list and then Athletics New Zealand asked if I wanted to try athletic sports. I wasn’t any good at javelin or long jump, so I stuck to running,” he says.
“I’m a bit of a slow starter, so I’m definitely stronger in the 200m. I’m really hoping to make the final for that.”
Mitch lost his right leg from the knee down in a woodchipper machine while working as an arborist in 2013.
Currently, he juggles sprint training with working 60 hours a week as a truck driver for Transcon.
“Being an arborist was the dream job, but I broke my other leg at work after losing my right one, so it was strongly advised that I did something else.
“To be honest, the leg I broke causes me more problems than the one that isn’t there.”
Prior to losing his leg, Mitch played rugby for Mahurangi College and was a junior world champion archer.
“But it’s a bit dangerous to play rugby with a steel leg, and I felt like I had peaked with archery.
“That’s why I’m hooked on running because I’m not naturally fast, so I have to work hard to be good at it.”
Despite being the highest ranked 200m sprinter in his disability classification in New Zealand, the trip to Dubai is not fully funded.
“The trip costs $13,000, and I’ve had $6000 donated. Any money I can’t raise I’ll have to top up with my savings.”
The competition will be held from November 7 to 15.
To donate to help get Mitch get to the world champs, visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/mitch-joynts-paralympic-dream.