Parasports World talks to Matt Levy (1)
Updated: Jul 22, 2019
He’s a Para-Swimmer who has competed at four consecutive Paralympic Games, winning 2 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze medals, not to mention breaking 4 World Records and being awarded the Order of Australia Medal (O.A.M).
Matt Levy is one of Australia’s most decorated athletes and took time out of his busy schedule to discuss his medal studded career, his most valuable Paralympic memories, life after sport and phonecards! Check out Part One of our interview with Matt below…
How do you stay motivated after so much success?
Well, I’ve obviously been involved in Para-Swimming for quite a while now, and have been to 4 Paralympic games, and will hopefully go to my first Commonwealth Games in April, so it’s a matter of keeping on top of the training, keep improving.
I’ve been working in the corporate world now for 8 years so it’s also a matter of getting that work/life balance. I still really enjoy swimming but it’s also about making sure that I have other things outside of the sport. I know it’s going to end eventually so I’m just happy to keep going while it’s going well!
With your track record, do you feel the pressure of high expectations?
I think I feel less pressure. Mainly because I’m swimming because I want to swim not because I want to make a team or make my first final, I’m just doing it because I love the sport.
I was also pretty carefree at the start of my career, around 15/16 but I definitely felt the pressure when I was trying to make my first Paralympic team. Luckily the success I’ve had means I can focus on improving as a swimmer.
What’s your focus in the lead up to the Paralympics in 2020?
I definitely want to get my 50m freestyle down and my 200m Individual Medley time down. They’ve just released the official programme for the Paralympics in 2020 so it’s good to refocus on specific events. I’m really going for the 50m race though, so basically swimming fast for one length and then relaxing for the rest of the games!
As an athlete, what’s the one thing you need to make is onto a Paralympic podium?
You’ve got to be the best ‘you’ you can be. You can model yourself of someone, and I take bits and pieces from the best out there, but you have to map it onto you and your personality and strengths.
Look at Roger Federer for example, he’s played the best tennis of his career at the back end of his career and he plays in the moment and that’s what I try and do. You can’t focus on the future or the past, you have to focus on the present. All the technical elements are important, you need to train right, you need to eat right but if you haven’t got the right attitude then all of that falls apart.
The beauty of Paralympic sport is that we all have impairments of some sort, so we have bigger capacity for improvement than able bodied athletes, who have about 1% of capacity to improve. We’re always evolving physically, and finding ways to make our weaknesses strengths, so our margins for development are huge.
Is there anything you’d like to improve in your own training setup?
Our coaches tend to not fully understand disability; I think it’s taken them some time to understand how to train people with a disability, which I guess is natural and a problem you’ll find in most countries. In able bodied sport it’s close to one size fits all from a coaching perspective but in disability sport there’s a limit to what each athlete can do, physically.
Those limits vary between athletes and are much more complex and I think coaches have a hard time understanding that. Most of us are training in mainstream squads and it’s a matter of the coaches understanding us and us understanding the coaches.
--END OF PART ONE-- Make sure you check in next week for PART TWO
All Images Courtesy of Matt Levy
Stay tuned. Parasports World provides parasports news, paralympic sports entertainment and disability sports community. Find great parasport and inspiring para-athletes from the Paralympic Games, Invictus Games and parasport events.