Olympic javelin athlete Kim Mickle has signed with AFL club Fremantle for the national women’s league and is expected to be ready for pre-season training despite her post-Rio Games shoulder reconstruction.
The 31-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist joins priority picks Ebony Antonio and Kirby Bentley and fellow rookie Gabby O’Sullivan in signing onto Fremantle’s squad for the league’s inaugural season in 2017 in February to March.
Mickle dislocated her already-repaired throwing shoulder while competing in the qualifying round at the Rio Olympics last month.
She played mixed football as a junior but pursued athletics after her mother became worried she would get injured playing against boys.
“I’ve always wanted to play football but it wasn’t available back then…it’s cool that it has sprung up and become an elite sport,” Mickle said.
“I can’t wait to give it a go.”
Fremantle’s national women’s league, academies and community manager Wade Spilcker believed Mickle’s experience in elite level competition would have her well placed to meet the demands of an AFL player.
“Kim not only brings existing football skills with her but the desire and competitiveness of a professional athlete that will be of great benefit to the entire team,” Spilcker said.
Fremantle’s two priority picks come from strong football backgrounds, with both Antonio and Bentley playing under Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan in the women’s exhibition series.
Two-time WAWFL premiership player Antonio only returned to football in 2015 after winning a Women’s National Basketball League title with the Bendigo Spirit in 2013.
Bentley also has a diverse sporting background as an AIS netball scholarship holder as well as having the Kirby Bentley Cup, which provides young Aboriginal girls with an opportunity to display their football skills, named after her.
The utility, who is returning from an ACL injury, represented Melbourne for three seasons.
O’Sullivan, 22, returned to Perth in June after graduating with a bachelor of science from the College of Coastal Georgia in the United States, where she had a basketball scholarship.