Photo credit: Karen Moffat McLeod
Kiwi archer Anne Mitchell is aiming to crown 20 years of medal-laden success by earning more precious metal at the World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland –and hopes to mark her appearance at the multi-sport festival alongside husband, Colin.
The New Zealand international and 2010 Commonwealth Games representative could scarcely have imagined the future success she has gone on to enjoy after first picking up a bow aged 40.
Inspired to take up archery after her son took up the sport on school camp, she chuckles at her underwhelming first taste of life on the range in which she lost several arrows in the long grass.
However, Anne – a former netball player - persevered with the sport and gradually improved, making her full international debut with the compound bow in 2008.
“I never felt I had talent, my success has just been down to hard graft,” explains Anne, from Balclutha in Otago. “I’ve always had to work hard to achieve the results. I still have off days when I shoot like a beginner, but I enjoy the challenge of trying to improve.”
One year after her full international debut, she featured in the gold medal-winning New Zealand team in the compound event at the 2009 World Cup in Turkey before the South Islander finished fifth in the compound team and ninth in the individual event at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Anne – who runs a family joinery business specialising in the supply of coffins – has also collected countless gold medals at the New Zealand Masters Games and is reigning New Zealand senior field and target women’s compound bow champion.
Yet one of her most memorable competitions came at the 2002 World Masters Games in Melbourne, when the current vice-president of Archery NZ collected “a swag” of two gold and two silver medals and Colin grabbed a bronze medal.
“We had been used to competing in small competitions in New Zealand but there were so many people lining up to compete,” said Anne, a grandmother of one, of the Melbourne World Masters Games. “We loved the whole experience and camaraderie between the participants.”
Practising between four and five times a week the 57-year-old Rosebank Archery Club member is now relishing the thought of competing in Auckland for the 2017 World Masters Games, where she will be eligible to compete in the 60-69 age group having celebrated her 60th birthday just three weeks earlier.
“I can’t wait to compete in the event,” adds Anne, who hopes to feature in field, target and indoor compound events. “It’s going to be quite a challenge. The event has already attracted so much interest in New Zealand and overseas.”
Anne would love to come away “with gold medals” at the World Masters Games, but she may have an extra incentive should her husband, a former President of Archery NZ, opt to compete.
“He doesn’t practise as much these days, but we are competitive and when he beats me I make an extra effort to beat him,” she adds.
And Colin’s thoughts on the challenge?
“I’d love to compete and come away with a higher score than my wife. I don’t practise as much as she does, but I still think I can kick her butt,” he adds jokingly.