Su­per striker sets his sights on a Com­mon­wealth tre­ble

Claire Mid­dle­ton finds a dou­ble Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal­list keen to fol­low his fa­ther to the Olympics

The Hockey Paper - - FRONT PAGE -

WHEN your grandfather has played hockey for Aus­tralia and your fa­ther has played hockey for Aus­tralia you have lit­tle choice. You have to play … cricket!

But not for long, as Trent Mit­ton even­tu­ally re­alised and, 100-odd Kook­aburra caps later he is still filled to the brim with am­bi­tion and hop­ing fi­nally to make the squad for a ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion.

His grandfather Don played for the na­tional side in 1958 while his fa­ther Grant was a mem­ber of the team which went to the 1984 Los An­ge­les Olympics and then won gold at the Lon­don World Cup two years later. That’s quite a fam­ily his­tory. And when you look at the events in which he has played, you’d surely want the youngest Mit­ton in your team.

He’s been to two Com­mon­wealth Games, two Cham­pi­ons’ Tro­phies one World League fi­nal and one Ocea­nia Cup – and won gold in all of them. How­ever, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, he’s far from sat­is­fied.

“I must be the most capped Aus­tralian who has never been to a World Cup or an Olympics,” he rues.

He didn’t miss much by miss­ing out on Rio – the pre-tour­na­ment favourites were sixth, play­ing with none of their usual press­ing piz­zazz – but that’s not the way an ath­lete sees it, even one who might feel bit­ter at his non-se­lec­tion.

“It was tough to watch. I thought I should have been there but they were my best friends play­ing out there so it was a re­ally weird ex­pe­ri­ence and I came out of it feel­ing very up­set at how it went,” he says.

The post-Olympic wa­ter­shed has given Mit­ton an­other crack at the big time and he will surely be in the mix for a third Com­mon­wealth gold medal af­ter sur­viv­ing the in­stal­la­tion of a new coach and start­ing the new regime with goals aplenty in the re­cent Test se­ries against Pak­istan in Dar­win.

The in­ter­na­tional re­tire­ments of Jamie Dwyer, Rus­sell Ford, Matt Go­hdes and Glenn Turner, plus the ini­tial non-se­lec­tion of in­jury-hit Kieran Govers has left the Aussies short of ex­pe­ri­enced fire­power.

Mit­ton, as a con­se­quence, has a real chance to ce­ment his claim for se­lec­tion on the big oc­ca­sions and is de­ter­mined to leave no stone un­turned in his ef­forts to do so. Let’s hope his nat­u­ral tal­ent for self-dep­re­ca­tion doesn’t hold him back.

"I'm mid­dle-aged in terms of my hockey ca­reer so that helped, along with the lack of al­ter­na­tive for­wards,” he says. He be­lieves he has a good re­la­tion­ship with new boss Colin Batch, who re­turned to Aus­tralia fol­low­ing a suc­cess­ful spell as coach of New Zealand. Batch, of course, was the as­sis­tant to Barry Dancer when the Kook­abur­ras won their only Olympic ti­tle, in 2004. "Colin was my coach when I was Un­der 15 at Wes­ley South Perth so I have seen him around the place a lot,” he says. The Aus­tralian na­tional teams are based in Perth, Western Aus­tralia, Mit­ton’s home city.

“I was a lit­tle ner­vous the day the new pro­gramme was an­nounced be­cause play­ers were be­ing let go and only a small squad was be­ing se­lected. There were a few who I think were hard done by but I’m go­ing to strive to be in the best 16 and if I can be the one to re­place Jamie Dwyer or Glenn Turner, I’d love to be that guy.

“Fol­low­ing Rio, we have to take the next step for­ward and ac­knowl­edge that im­prove­ments have to be made. We’ve lost a huge pro­por­tion of the core group so it is up to peo­ple like me to start to show some lead­er­ship and I’m look­ing for­ward to it.”

The first sport­ing love of Mit­ton, 26, was cricket and he was pretty good at it. It’s not sur­pris­ing then that he

Like fa­ther like son: Dad Grant Mit­ton, a for­mer Aus­tralia in­ter­na­tional jokes with son Trent be­fore his de­but for the Kook­abur­ras in 2010. Trent’s grandfather Don also rep­re­sented the na­tional team.

PIC­TURES: PA

Third gen­er­a­tion: Trent Mit­ton, left, has fol­lowed his grandfather and fa­ther into the Kook­abur­ras’ green and gold. He’s hop­ing to be as suc­cess­ful as for­mer strik­ers Jamie Dwyer and Glenn Turner, right

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