18 Jan 2024

NZ axe throwers off to world champs

From Summer Times, 9:30 am on 18 January 2024
Sarah Hilyard (left) and Michelle Mitchell in action.

Photo: Supplied

A team of seven New Zealanders has qualified for the World Axe and Knife Throwing Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma in April.

It's a four-day event, and contestants will compete in their various throwing disciplines to try become world champion and receive part of a NZ$100,000 prize.

Wellington axe thrower Michelle Mitchell will be competing with her duals partner Sarah Hilyard, who is also one of the owners of Sweet Axe - an axe-throwing experience business. 

"I actually started playing over in Australia and it's quite hard to meet people - it's not quite like Kiwis where everyone's just friends.

"And so I was trying to find a sport that I thought I could do, and then I saw an advert and I went along and joined the Gold Coast League and just really, really enjoyed it. When I returned back to New Zealand, there was a place down on Cambridge Terrace so I just got straight back into it.

"I think I landed with all my luggage on the Sunday and I went to the first league night on Monday, so I was straight back into it."

She enjoyed how the sport was mixed gender, without classes.

"Pretty much anyone can do it - if you're in a wheelchair, no matter what gender, if you're short, tall, whatever, because it just comes down to like, a little bit of accuracy… it's quite a good sport for anyone to get involved in."

Mitchell was not expecting to win in Tulsa, but will train hard over the next 12 or so weeks nonetheless. 

"In America it's a massive sport and like, anything they just, they do, there are some amazing, amazing players out there."

But even she, a world-level competitive axe-thrower, would dare throw one at anything other than a target - with no desire to join a circus act.

"I don't think I'd find anyone that would trust me to do that."

I mean, I think in America the, it's, I mean, it's a massive sport and like, anything they just, they do, there are some amazing, amazing players out there.

You can keep up with their progress on the Sweet Axe website or Facebook page.