‘I didn’t think it was going to go that far’

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Petrolia's Rachel Burns of St. Pat's High School won Silver in the Junior Girls Shot Put Friday at OFSSA.

Burns wins Silver at OFSSA

Maggie Mullens knew Rachel Burns has what it takes to be competitive in shot put even before she picked up a four kg ball.

The Grade 10 St. Pat’s student from Petrolia proved her right Friday, exploding for a personal best 12.55 m to win Silver in the Junior Women’s Shot Put at OFSSA in London.

Six weeks ago, Burns had never competed in the sport. Mullen, who went to Ohio State University participating in NCAA track and field events, told Burn’s friend to make sure she made it to tryouts earlier in the year. “I knew she was gonna be it before she touched a shot,” she said as she watched Burns compete.

Mullens says the teen has the height and the strength for the sport. And she has the drive.

“I knew that she was a girl that had grit, and I really looked for that in throwers. She doesn’t shy away from a competition. She kind of goes after her competition,” said Mullens just moments after Burns threw 12.03m – six centimetres off her personal best – to head into the finals where she would have two more opportunities to get onto the podium.

Burn’s last throw in the first round was her lowest of the meet – 10:73m. She got back on track in the fifth round, with a round of 12.07m.

Then Burns surprised even herself with her final throw. What was she thinking as she stepped into the circle? “Just throw it far. I was nervous,” she said.

Rachel Burns with her final throw of 12.55m

The nerves, and the training, all came together as she hurdled the shot put 12.55m, nearly a half metre father than she ever had. “I didn’t think it was going to be that far,” Burns told The Independent with a laugh and a huge smile.

After the throw, Burns nerves disappeared as she rushed over to Mullens for a big hug. Her coach was clearly proud and, after winning Silver in her first year of competition, Mullens says Burns has huge potential.

“I think she can go as far as she wants to, as long as she puts the work in. Honestly, we had that conversation last night; where does she see herself? Does she see herself doing this in university? And she’s just starting to think about that? … I think she’s got potential to to gain a scholarship in Canada or in the States.

“She’s one of the throwers with the most potential that I’ve had in a long time.”

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