In the Spotlight With Olympic Champion Matt Wylie MBE
Tell Us About You
I am 20 years old and I am a full-time athlete, currently training at City of Sunderland Swimming Club. I am part of the British Swimming Para Swim Team. Last year 2016 I become Paralympic Champion in S9 50 Freestyle (at my first games). I also became European Champion in the same event earlier that year. I am the British Record Holder for the S9 50 Free. I was born with the condition Cerebral Palsy, which is a neuromuscular disability that affects the left half of my body.
Matt at Rio Olympics with his gold medal
How & Why Did You Start?
I started swimming as part of a rehabilitation program after breaking my leg due to a bone a tumour in my femur. Also, swimming was a great way to help strengthen and stretch my muscles to help my condition. I really enjoyed being in the water as I grew up, being in the pool allowed me to do things that I struggled to do on land such as compete with my peers.
What Have Been Your Biggest Challenges?
In 2015 I was disappointed when I didn't qualify for the World Championships. Three weeks after the championships I swam a personal best time that would have secured me the Gold at Worlds. This made me even more determined to be on the team for Rio.
What Are Your Biggest Achievements?
Becoming Paralympic Champion in S9 50 Freestyle in Rio 2016. This was something I had dreamed of since being a child. Also, being named on the New Years Honours List. I will receive my MBE on 19th April 2017. To be recognised for something that I love doing is a truly fantastic feeling.
What Did You Want To Be When You Were At School?
In primary school, I wanted be a vet. I loved animals, even though we never had any pets. When I was at secondary school I wanted to just focus on being the best swimmer I could be. In college I studied 'A' Level Law. It was the first time I had learned about the field. It was my twin sister who also studied the subject who pushed me into learning more about law. Post my swimming career I would love to pursue a legal career.
What Was Your First Job?
I am a volunteer coach at my swimming club, where I coach the Junior Bronze Squad once a week. This group of swimmers is aged between 5 and 8. It’s a part of my week I really look forward to. Also, since returning from Rio I have been to a lot of schools to talk about my experience in Rio and inspiring the next generation.
What Job Would You Like To Have Other Than Your Own & Why?
It’s funny to consider that my sport, something I have been passionate about for a large proportion of my life, is my job. I love swimming for a living but I would love to be a lawyer. I did law in college and I really enjoyed learning about the field. My twin sister is currently studying criminology at Leeds University and I would like to follow her into a legal field of work.
What Do You Love Most About Working In The North East?
Training in the North East is great with Sunderland offering the only 50 metre pool in my area. The next, nearest long course pool is Leeds which is impractical, whereas Sunderland is easily accessible every day. My training group at Sunderland is like a second family to me. Many of us have swum together since we were very young. We are all very close and I attribute a lot of my success in Rio to my training partners.
What Do You Love Most About Living In The North East?
I love living in the North East as it’s not a really busy place to live and within an 1/2 hour drive you can be in the city, at the coast or in the countryside. My family are all local and it’s great to get to see them in the little time I get off from the pool.
What Do You Do In Your Down Time?
I enjoy spending time with my family and girlfriend. We enjoy days out. I love going to the Lake District for Sunday dinner. When I am not at the pool I am a normal teenager, playing online with my friends on my PS4.
What’s Your Number One Piece Of Advice For Anyone Wanting To Do Something They Are Passionate About?
The key in life is to find something you really love doing. If you love doing something more than anything, you will be able to find time to pursue it. I love swimming - if I didn't I wouldn’t get up at 5am most mornings to get in a pool. Your passion can be something that is completely personal to you but if you love it you should always go for it.
Matt collecting his MBE at Buckingham Palace with his family, April 19th 2017
Would you like to take part in our 'In The Spotlight' series? If you think you stand out from the crowd please email us with the following information:
Your full name, the business or charity in which you are involved and why you would like to take part.
If selected we will be in touch to interview.