Come wind or high water, Matthew gives it his best shot
Bad weather at the 2012 GIO Summer Down Under Series in Sydney may have upset Matthew Lack’s plans to record some great track qualifying times ahead of this year’s Paralympic Games, but it didn’t keep him from placing third in the OZ Day 10K Marathon.
Wheelchair Sports New South Wales hosts the 2012 GIO Summer Down Under Series, with 2012 marking a return to a track and road series in Canberra and Sydney, before finishing in Sydney with the Oz Day 10K Marathon.
Invacare was a Support sponsor of the event which featured competitors from more than 12 countries.
Up against experienced champions in their late twenties – including one of his mentors Kurt Fearnley – 20-year-old Matthew finished the 10km marathon in 21min36sec, behind second place Canadian Joshua Cassidy who finished in20min53sec and the winner from Australia, Kurt Fearnely, in 20min23sec.
In the build up to the Oz Day Marathon, most commentators expected that Beijing Paralympic Marathon gold medallist Kurt Fearnley’s main competition would come from Josh Cassidy (Canada), Roger Puigbo Verdaguer (Spain), Kota Hokinoue and Nobukazu Hanaoka (Japan) – which serves to highlight just how big an accomplishment Matthew’s third placing was.
“The weather wasn’t great for the two track meets. We had rain one day and heavy winds the next. When you have leather and rubber gloves, and a rubber push rim, it makes for slippery going,” says Matthew, who travels to compete in Canada and Switzerland in the next few weeks.
With no athletic tracks near his Opotiki home, Matthew does most of his training on the road, which he says is rugged with plenty of hills for strength and fitness training. And he’s hoping that it’s his training on those same back roads that will take him to the London 2012 Paralympic Games later this year.
While placing third in the Oz Day 10K against world class competition from countries like Japan, Canada, Australia, Korea and China is a huge success, Matthew says he knows he has to work for his place in the New Zealand team for London.
To pursue that goal Matthew travels to Canada later this month to participate in the 10km Rolling Rampage in Ontario on April 26th, before going to Switzerland to compete in the Swiss Nationals later in May.
While winning in Canada and Switzerland would be a bonus, Matthew says the primary goal is to achieve qualifying times that will show the New Zealand Paralympic selectors that – even though he has already qualified for London – he is getting better, stronger and faster all the time.
“You have to be very good to qualify for the New Zealand Paralympic Team and I just want to keep on showing what I can do.” If Matthew is selected to represent New Zealand he will be eligible to participate in the 400m, 800m and1,500m events. “But right now, selection is my priority,” says