Mitchell was born at Hemel Hempstead General Hospital on 31st July 1992 and was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital at 3 days old. He was diagnosed there with a Craniofacial Syndrome called Apert Syndrome. This affects the way his skull was formed and his hands and feet. He had surgeries to his skull at 1 month old and 9 years old and had a ‘mid-face advancement’ done when he was 17 years old. He spent a lot of time in GOSH where he had surgery to separate his fingers which were completely fused at birth. He has also had surgery to his feet to narrow them so he can wear normal shoes and he has had numerous surgeries for hearing, breathing and dental work – an awful lot of his childhood was spent preparing for or recovering from surgery. He attended Great Gaddesden Primary School and Adeyfield Secondary School.
Mitch has always been a passionate sports fan and has always wanted to take part with any sporting event. At his junior school he was encouraged to play as part of the school football team and to compete in local athletics competitions and training each week. However, when Mitch reached Senior School age it became increasingly difficult for him to compete with students at his mainstream secondary school and we began looking for alternative avenues for him to achieve his ambitions. He joined Special Olympics St Albans when he was 11 and made football his main sport. He trained each week and in 2009 he represented Special Olympics Eastern Region at the football in the National Games in Leicester where he won a bronze medal – and that was where his real passion to win stemmed from. After the Games Mitchell underwent major facial surgery and was advised to steer clear of flying footballs whilst his bones healed – and this was the point where he switched to competing at athletics.
He trained hard over the next 4 years and was then selected to represent Special Olympics Eastern Region at the National Games in Bath in 2013. Here he achieved a silver medal for his 100m sprint and a gold medal for his 4 x 100m relay. At this competition he was approached by SOGB to see if he would like to put himself forward to represent GB at the World Games in Los Angeles in 2015. Selection was made in March 2014 and Mitchell was one of only 7 athletes selected to represent GB at athletics at the games – you can only begin to imagine the excitement!
His training increased after this to 3 athletics sessions a week and some gym work. He trained on a Monday with Special Olympics St Albans and on a Tuesday and Thursday with Dacorum and Tring Athletics Club at Jarman Park. He competed all year in local and national competitions, had three training weekends with his GB squad and continued to do this whilst attending West Herts College on a Supported Internship Course and preparing to move out of home.
In Los Angeles Mitchell surpassed all expectations and came home with a Gold medal for his Long Jump (3.27m), a Silver medal for his 100m (16.16s) and a Bronze medal for his 4 x 100m relay – an exceptional achievement for a young man who didn’t walk until he was 18 months old and only then after daily physiotherapy to strengthen his muscles.
Mitchell is now one of the athletes that has been chosen to become an Ambassador for Special Olympics to visit local schools and businesses to help promote the work that this organisation does and to encourage more young people with Intellectual Disabilities to take part in sport.
Last edited by Ben Russell on January 27, 2017