World University Games: Emma Mitchell targets success in Taipei

Emma Mitchell could also run the 5,000m at the World University Games
Emma Mitchell could also run the 5,000m at the World University Games

Banbridge athlete Emma Mitchell will hope to top off a remarkable season by challenging for a medal at the World University Games in Taipei on Wednesday.

Mitchell, 23, goes into the 10,000m as the fourth fastest in the field having clocked 32:51.78 earlier this season.

Evening temperatures are expected to be around 25 centigrade, which Mitchell believes she will be able to cope with.

"I think when you are extremely fit, you find a way to deal with the conditions," said Mitchell.

"Under the direction of my coach Eamonn Christie, I have been on the times I have been set in training and I know I have done everything that has been asked of me in those sessions.

"That gives me confidence when I stand on the start line that I couldn't have done any more to be in better shape."

5,000m option

If Wednesday's race in Taiwan goes satisfactorily, Mitchell also has the option of competing in the 5,000m later this week but for now all her attentions are devoted to the 10,000m which will start at 7.45pm local time (12:45 BST).

Mitchell clocked her 10,000m personal best in London earlier this summer as she achieved the Commonwealth Games consideration standard and bettered Teresa Duffy's 20-year-old Northern Ireland record by over 41 seconds.

That performance came a week after the Stranmillis student had broken Duffy's long-standing Northern Ireland 5,000m record.

"The main aim is to go there and compete in Wednesday's 10,000m and see how it goes and how I come out of it and take it from there.

"I always go in with the attitude that whatever race is first is the one I am focusing on."

Emma Mitchell sprints to the line to secure a comfortable 5,000m win at Irish Championships
Emma Mitchell sprints to the line to secure a comfortable 5,000m win at Irish Championships

The approach worked like a dream in the recent Irish Championships at Santry as Mitchell won the 5,000m on the Saturday evening before producing another stunning last lap to clinch the 1500m title a day later.

Mitchell's final-lap speed this season has been testament to the work she has put in with Christie, who coached Ciara Mageean during the Portaferry woman's outstanding junior career.

"We do fast last laps regularly at the end of sessions. I'm fit and I know I'm fast enough to be able to carry that out in the closing stages of races."

Mitchell is not making any bold predictions about coming home from Taipei with medals but the formbook suggests that she could challenge and the county Down woman is unlikely to lack confidence after her breakthrough season.

Japanese duo Yuki Munehisa (31:58.46) and Ai Hosoda (32:26.99) are the fastest in the field with Turkey's Esma Aydemir having clocked 10 seconds quicker than Mitchell's lifetime best.

But Mitchell's prospects do look to have been helped by the withdrawal of Kyrgyzstan's 32:21.21 performer Daria Maslova, who competed at the recent World Championships in London.

Great Britain pair

This year's double Irish champion is faster on the clock that both British hopefuls Louise Small and Jennifer Nesbitt after finishing ahead of the duo during her Northern Ireland record performance in May.

Mitchell tried her hand at virtually every conceivable sport before settling on athletics as she linked up with Christie's training group after initially being coached at Banbridge High School by Heather Martin.

"Within three months of coming to Eamonn, I made the European Cross Country team in Dublin in 2009. I trained with Ciara regularly and we had a really good group of girls."

After Mitchell returns from Taiwan, she will resume her studies at Stranmillis but all the while planning for next spring's Commonwealth Games in Australia.

"I'm going into my third year at the end of September . It all fits in nicely. I'm off during the summer and can get plenty of training done.

"And even during the college year, I am able to run twice a day most days. I'm close to the (Mary Peters) track.

"The studies make me sit down and rest and recover and I can fit everything in pretty well. I'm quite good at managing all that."

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