Olympian Morgan Mitchell on the mental challenges behind reaching the 'pinnacle'

Kristine Tarbert
·Features and Health Editor
·5-min read

Aussie track star Morgan Mitchell has just been announced as the newest face of F45 Training globally, and as she prepares to compete in her second Olympic games, the 26-year-old has opened up about her journey to get there.

"The Olympics is definitely the pinnacle, like the dream. I've had that dream since I was six years old, to go to the Olympics and be an Olympic champion," Morgan tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

Aussie Olympian Morgan Mitchel joins F45 team
Aussie Olympian Morgan Mitchel is the newest face of F45 Training globally. Photo: Supplied/F45

"It's very hard to explain what it's like to actually be there, honestly, it's like Christmas and Disneyland all in one big event," she adds.

Olympic preparation

An Olympian at the age of 21, Morgan made her name as a 400m runner at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and has now turned her hand to the 800m race.

But despite the Tokyo 2020 Olympics being postponed to take place this year instead, Morgan says she hasn't let that distract her from the end goal.

"I think a lot of the athletes are saying this, that we've had a year to get stronger, fitter and faster, which is exciting," she says.

"And because I've started a new event, it has given me an extra year to prepare and things are going well at the moment."

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Morgan also points out that as a woman in sport, the Olympics are a great arena to level the playing field.

"You get to mix with other sports and other talent. And, you know, some pretty famous people like Serena Williams, not too many people can say that they've shared a room with Michael Phelps for example," she recalls.

"But just knowing that we're all there for the same reason, regardless of status."

Morgan Mitchell of Australia and Eunice Jepkoech Sum of Kenya compete in the Women's 800 metres Heat 3 semi finals during day two of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019
Morgan competes at the World Athletics Championships in Doha 2019. Photo: Getty

Being a woman in sport

Outside of the Olympic Games, Morgan says she's been thrilled to see the increasing support and publicity for women's sport all around the world.

"It's obviously a great thing to be a part of, and I've always seen it within athletics, it's actually quite easy and quite fair, to be honest. But I'm just loving seeing other sports evolve," she tells us. "Like women's rugby and the Australian women's soccer team, just killing it. 

"It's giving people the opportunity to see that women can be on the same level as men, and they can succeed and they can be successful."

The pressures of body talk

While things have come a long way, Morgan says she's had her fair share of struggles as a result of the 'body talk' many women in sport are faced with.

"The number one thing for me was always being I guess having comments made about my body. Whereas men don't usually see that," she tells us.

"In track and field, because we get out there in crop tops and briefs, it just opens that can of worms for people to comment on your looks. 

"And that's the one thing I'm trying to share, especially for girls in school, because that comes with a lot of mental health issues and eating disorders, which I used to have, and I think don't think anyone should experience that at all." 

morgan mitchell in Australian olympic uniform
Morgan says women are often criticised about their body, more so than men in sport. Photo: AP

Morgan's advice after overcoming mental health struggles

Luckily, Morgan says there are more and more people out there - in athletics and other sports - who are "trying to change that".

"You have a lot of young girls that look up to you," Morgan says, adding, "If one small thing goes wrong, and they catch on, or they see you doing things a certain way, because you are being bullied, for example, then they are going to pick that up and do the same thing, so it's trying to actually reverse that for younger generation."

One of the biggest things Morgan learned as a result of beating her eating disorder is the simple fact that 'food is fuel'.

An advocate of a plant-based lifestyle, Morgan was also featured in the widely popular Netflix documentary The Game Changers and says it is all about "listening to your body".

"Just trust yourself, and listen to yourself, and your body, and the team around you [if you're an athlete] that are doing nothing but supporting you," she says.

Morgan Mitchell competes in the Womens 800m final during the Australian Track and Field Championships in 2019
Morgan had to overcome her own battle with mental health and an eating disorder. Photo: Getty

The new face of F45

As of this week (March 15) Morgan will appear on the F45 in-studio screens alongside current ambassador Cory George. She's says it's a huge opportunity to make a statement about inclusion.

"I've been to F45 before and I'm actually mixing a lot of their workouts into my training regime, so this was a huge opportunity," Morgan shares.

"F45 does such a good job at inclusion and making sure everyone feels comfortable and safe.

"It really is an inclusive global community and I think that's the most exciting part – it is forever, regardless of race or gender or background."

Morgan also hopes that she might play a small part in inspiring younger women, particularly women of colour, just like she looked up to her idol Cathy Freeman.

"I've done it before, you know, you see someone that kind of looks like you, that represents you. And you do find a sense of motivation," she tells us.

"She was living out the goals that I wanted to kick. But then obviously, I don't want to just be beacon for women of colour, but obviously inspire everyone.

"I'm just excited to dive straight into it and meet the team and start travelling around the world once we can."

For confidential support about eating disorders and body image issues you can free call the Butterfly Foundation National Hotline on 1800 33 4673.

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