They call him the ‘combat wombat’, resembling the stout, sturdy marsupial – stocky in build with the ability to travel short distances quickly.
CAPTION: Royal Australian Navy Petty Officer Mitchell Morton pushes his students during a physical training class at South Camp of the Multinational Force and Observers on Operation Mazurka in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt. Photo by Corporal Melina Young.
Petty Officer Mitchell Morton is a physical training instructor who works alongside the Fijian Army supporting the Multinational Force & Observers in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.
He gets up at 4.30am each day and sets up for the 6am class he instructs at the gymnasium.
Petty Officer Morton sneaks in a coffee before everyone arrives, then delivers a class that has his clients grimacing through clenched teeth.
The participants can be overheard during lunch commenting on the impact the instructor’s classes are having on their body.
Some are still euphoric, while others raise themselves off their chairs with a slight scowl at the pain from ignited muscle growth.
“This week we conducted a re-test of our 2000m row and ski after a 12-week maximum aerobic speed training block,” Petty Officer Morton said.
“This allowed participants to measure their progress and assess the effectiveness of their training.”
Petty Officer Morton is responsible for the day-to-day running of the South Camp gymnasium, which includes facility management, finance planning, and provides development for the Fijian physical training instructor staff.
Petty Officer Morton says it’s important to keep the multinational defence forces in peak physical condition.
“It enables them to accomplish all aspects of their tasks while avoiding injury and maintaining deployability,” he said.
“It also boosts their productivity, helps with stress and builds teamwork, which prepares them for the mission.”
During his time overseas, Petty Officer Morton has learnt the importance of building relationships with people from different backgrounds and cultures.
“It has not only given me new personal friendships, but it has also provided me with the opportunity to develop cross-cultural communication skills,” he said.
Fitness has always played a large part in Petty Officer Morton’s life, especially his love for rugby league, which he has played for two decades.
“It challenges me physically and mentally, and I enjoy knowing how far the human body can be pushed,” Petty Officer Morton said.
Deploying overseas on land is a first for the Navy sailor from HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney.
“Last year I applied for the position. There were five applicants that went to a board and I was fortunate enough to be selected.”