Dr. Robin Mitchell supporting Oceania athletes

Monday, August 13, 2012

By Alana Christensen of The Reporters' Academy

He represents 17 different countries, looks after an entire region and as the President of the Oceania National Olympic Committee, Dr. Robin Mitchell has a great deal of responsibility.

As a former Fijian Olympic team physician, athletics and hockey representative and coach, Mitchell has a very strong connection to both the Olympics and sport.

As a result it is very fitting that he is the man that promotes a country and a region that he has been representing for so long, a country and region that he loves and admires so much – Fiji.

Even though he is a very busy man, Mitchell takes time out to mingle with the athletes and other officials that he represents. He even takes the time to talk to media; such was the case when he allowed us to interview him during a Papua New Guinean cultural event.

Over the sounds of dancing, cultural music, talking and laughter, Mitchell smiles as he tells us about his job, London and Oceania at the Olympics.

You can tell from the way Robin Mitchell acts he feels his job is more of a privilege than a burden, he loves it. The opportunity to represent such an important organization and to be involved in such an important event such as the Olympics is something he cherishes.

Seeing the athletes grow, improve and seeing the way the countries bond and collaborate on such a global stage are just some of the highlights of Mitchell’s, at times, high pressure job.

He has been able to observe and witness the improvements and he’s pleased with Oceania’s continual development as a region. “From the point of view of the athletes, I think it’s been a big improvement since Beijing,” he said.

With the improved access to training facilities in England in the lead up to the Olympics, Oceania athletes have been able to make the most of the resources. Mitchell sees this as a big reason behind their success.

“The preparation in the north west has been very, very beneficial to the athletes…the athletes are better prepared,” he said.

Better training and results for Oceania equal better public awareness and higher profiles for all the countries involved, something Mitchell hopes to achieve by this Olympics’ campaign.

“We’re not going to perform athletically, not for a while…but we make a mark in different ways, by the cultural programs, the tourist programs,” he explained.

Mitchell’s work is all about attempting to get the best out of their talented athletes and make the athletes feel at home in such a foreign city. The throwing of cultural nights such as those held at St Katharine Docks is one small way in which Mitchell attempts to not only promote Oceania, but also try and make the athletes feel back at home.

These cultural nights also have a very positive affect on the athletes. “It’s good to know that there’s other people here from the same background. It’s great,” says Mitchell.

With all his experience, he also has some advice to offer the Oceania athletes. “Hopefully you’ve done the best that you can and that this is just the beginning of your athletic career, where every year you’ll continue to improve.”

Through all his work Mitchell not only hopes to improve the profile of Oceania athletes but also help to involve women in sport. The Pacific’s record of women in sport is a proud one. As he points out, the “Pacific generally, when you look in a world context, does quite well in terms of women in administration and women in other sporting fields.”

This Olympics is all about improving results, exposure and ensuring that all the countries in Oceania can look back fondly on these Olympics and be proud of their athletes and what they achieved.

With the performances achieved at the London Olympics, Mitchell knows that this is only the beginning and all the Oceania athletes will continue to improve and excel.

He has a clear idea of what needs to happen to improve the future of Oceania sport. “The main thing is to have a clear focus on what we want to achieve. We got to work hard. Nothing comes easy, you’ve really got to train hard if you want to get to your particular goals. Like anything else, it’s hard work”.

It is clear that with the amount of talent Oceania will only continue to improve over the coming Olympics and, if Robin Mitchell has anything to say about it, become a force to be reckoned with.