Throwing a javelin is ultimately about balance. On the runway, at release, and in the flight of the projectile.
Mackenzie Little is one of the best in the world at it – in fact the third best, winning bronze at the World Championships in Budapest. But the more notable balance she excels at is in combining a life of elite athletic performance with final year medical studies.
It’s fair to say that 26-year-old Little is a bit different to the rest of us. Sure, most elite athletes are. But, despite athletes being put on a pedestal, it’s often the one area of life that they might excel in. Not so for Mackenzie, who combines her athletics career with final year medical studies at Sydney University.
It’s not just the balancing of these two pursuits that’s impressive, but the creativity of how it’s done. Whether completing her weights sessions in a storage locker, or jet setting around the world on a weekend to compete against the world’s bests and returning in time for Monday’s work at the hospital, her approach is grounded with a clear sense of purpose.
“Training is a perfect outlet from studies, so they work really well together,” Little told Wide World of Sports.
“I feel like I can really feed off the balance when I’m in a good academic space and athletics space and everything is going well. It makes me feel really happy and content in life in general. And that’s when the best results come.”
It took to the final round in Budapest to move into the medal positions. After being a finalist at the Tokyo Olympics and last year’s World Championships in Oregon, the step up to the podium is somewhere that Little feels she now belongs.
“This whole season I’ve gotten better and better and I’ve learnt to travel well and compete and nail those technical things and I feel like I’ve jumped up to a higher echelon of throwers, confident in global finals so it’s exciting to be there and have expectations and learn how to handle that,” she said.
“(Working the way I do), there’s a part of me that loves the routine, the normalcy helps me come down from these major championships where the emotions are running so high and people feel drained and empty but I can’t afford to do that and I’ve got to get going.”
“The plan remains the same but I’d like an upgrade. I have a lot of self belief now. It’s going to be hard and challenging next year, as I work full time and it will be emotionally draining too but I know I can find the balance and I’m excited for next year.”