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Serbian athlete makes long-term transition to America
Dimitrije Mitic transferred to Webster’s home campus in 2016 from Leiden as a study abroad student. Two months ago, Mitic made that transfer a permanent one.
The Webster shot put and javelin thrower came to America after living in Belgrade, Serbia for most of his life. Mitic said coming to America turned out well for him.
“It’s the difference between a three-star hotel and a five-star hotel,” Mitic said. “You get clean bed sheets in both of them, but the five-star hotel is that much better.”
Mitic walked on to the track and field team after introducing himself to Head Track and Field Coach Nick Niehaus. Mitic holds two second-team all-conference awards for the javelin throw since joining the team.
Mitic broke his own shot put record with a 12.03 meter throw at the Missouri Collegiate Challenge on Sunday. The previous week, Mitic broke the five-year long Webster record with an 11.75 meter toss. Niehaus said it was Mitic’s love for the sport that made him a fit for the team. That, and his personal best records from his time throwing in Serbia.
Mitic adds a different perspective on the team, coming from a place across the world. Niehaus said Mitic made a strong vow to make the most out of his senior season.
“Since making that verbal commitment, Dimitrije has surprised me by not missing a single workout since the summer began,” Niehaus said.
Mitic is the strongest male athlete on the team according to Niehaus. Mitic stays serious when it comes to crunch time but never fails to crack a joke every once in a while, Niehaus said.
Niehaus said Mitic struggled with the minor details of being an athlete after first joining the team. Mitic trained hard in the weight room and at practice but neglected off-season work, Niehaus added.
Niehaus said he watched Mitic transform himself into the athlete he is today. Mitic, Niehaus said, did not only improve as an athlete but also with academics.
Teammate and fellow thrower Joseph Elking said Mitic started out as just the jokester and not the hard worker he is today. He said Mitic stepped up his game after becoming a part of Webster track and field.
Elking, Mitic, and Niehaus spend time each week focusing on throwing only. Mitic said that created a strong bond between him, his teammate and his coach.
Mitic’s Serbian background contributes to his funny and competitive personality, Elking said.
“He’s a very critical teammate that loves to help out and create a positive environment for the team,” Elking said.
Mitic’s mom and brother emigrated to Washington D.C. before Mitic arrived to Webster. Mitic said Webster being a familiar university made him want to come to St. Louis. He said he wanted to stay in America permanently after college with his family.