Parasports World talks to Matt Levy (2)
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 Two of our interview with Matt below…
Looking back, which moments do you cherish the most from your Paralympic career?
I’ve had a few! I think winning Gold in the London 400m freestyle relay was pretty special, we had a great team that year but still it was a close race. It’s great to compete as part of a team and do it for our country. But also being a part of the team is a great experience in itself.
Us as athletes we’re not just learning for our sport, we’re learning for our lives as well. If you can learn how to face adversity or failure and get out the other side with a smile on your face then that’s just as valuable.
I look back and you definitely cherish the journey more than the piece of metal around your neck. Making friends and sharing experiences with people along the way definitely stays with you.
Sure you have to work hard, you have to put in the training and the payoff is a Paralympic medal at the end of it but the life lessons you learn along the way are way more valuable than the actual race that you swim.
Having made your first Paralympic team in 2004, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen?
The competition has definitely increased over the course of 4 Paralympic Games. Standards have really risen and the times are getting closer between the swimmers.
I think people training smarter has a big role to play in it. People understanding their bodies better and figuring out what works best for them with individually.
I guess the other major thing is the exposure now. When the big meets come around and especially during the Paralympics it just blows up, particularly with social media nowadays. I remember when I was competing, even in 2008 I was dialing home on an old phonecard!
Have you thought about life after sport?
Well, I guess I’m closer to the end of my career than the start! I’ve been elected along with 4 other athletes to the World Para-Swimming Athlete Advisory Committee so I’m on there until 2021 so I’d like to give back to Para-Sport in some way and any sport is political in some sense so I would see myself in a mentoring role where other athletes can learn from me, how I can guide them and the experiences I’ve had along the way.
You have to take opportunities as they come and the advisory committee is one of those, and it’s a good steeping stone into that area of the sport. Also, when you’re competing, it makes sense to be involved as much as possible; people tend not to listen to you as much when you’re retired!
What do you think the role of Para-Sport is outside of the Paralympics?
There’s a lot of athletes like me, that if you saw them in the street you wouldn’t know they had a disability, which can make things hard. I think it helps if people know the back story to an athlete, the personal side. You can’t list your impairments, or the number of surgeries you’ve had, or begin to describe what you’ve been through.
People need to know that disabilities can be invisible sometimes, and that they’re everywhere. We need to raise awareness of these topics and to keep open minds to people with a disability. The Paralympics plays a big part in that.
I work with a foundation that supports the families of babies who’re born prematurely. I was born at 25 weeks, so it’s a cause pretty close to my heart. I do an Australia Day address, where I head to different rural areas and give a speech and meet the local people there. That’s always great, to get out there who I normally wouldn’t get the chance to speak to and spread the word about topics which are important to me.
MASSIVE THANKS FOR SPEAKING TO US MATT!!!
If you want to find out more about Matt or follow him on social media check out the links below...
All Images Courtesy of Matt Levy
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