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Going for the gold in Antwerp

Toronto track star Andre Mitchell is ready for his third Outgames

Andre Mitchell won nine medals at the last Outgames.

Thousands of LGBT athletes from around the world will converge on Antwerp, Belgium, over the coming days for the 2013 Outgames, with its opening ceremonies Aug 3. Among them is a strong Canadian contingent.

Xtra caught up with some Canadian athletes to watch at this year’s games. In the third of four profiles, we check in with one of the country's track and field champions.

The golden boy:

“Ummm gold . . . hello!” 36-year-old Toronto track athlete Andre Mitchell says when asked what he’s hoping to win in the upcoming World Outgames in Antwerp.

With more modesty he admits, “Naw. A gold or silver or bronze . . . it doesn't matter to me, just a seasonal best or personal best. I will be attending the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Brazil in October and would love to peak at that event.”

There’s no shortage of prestige events around the globe that this world-class athlete — who recently won gold in the 200 metres at the Ontario Provincials — can attend. He proudly includes the Outgames and Gay Games among them.

This year in Antwerp, Mitchell will be competing in the track and field 100, 200and 400 metres, long jump, high jump, triple jump, 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m and 4x100m (mixed).

This is his third Outgames, and the last time he won nine medals, so don’t be surprised to see a plethora of pendants gleaming around his neck once again.

But even with such success, it’s clear he’s retained his inner child’s joy of running, first experienced while growing up near Halifax. As a kid, “after doing yard work with my father, he used to mark a 100 metre start to finish on the main road where we lived. My father and I would start racing, and the other kids would come and join, and we would race each other. It was kind of my reward after doing chopping and piling wood. From there I fell in love with running and competition,” he says.

And what Mitchell likes best about these games, aside from the travel and reconnecting with people from previous events, is “the amount of support you get from finishing first or last at the World Outgames or Gay Games.”

“It’s incredible . . . there’s always someone there to congratulate you just on sheer finishing what was started . . . and it's such a beautiful thing, especially knowing sports are so competitive.”

Check out Xtra's profile of the Toronto Triggerfish — an LGBT water polo team.

And ballroom belles Lisa Pomeranz and Isabelle Léger and badminton pro Marie Houzeau who hopes to strike it big in Antwerp