Matt Walker MBE is a former British swimmer that participated in four Paralympic Games, winning 11 medals.
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Walker won a bronze medal in the 50m freestyle and finished fourth in the 100m freestyle, in which he was the only disabled swimmer representing England.
Matthew Walker MBE was inducted into the Cerebral Palsy Sport Hall of Fame at the 2019 Sports Awards for his incredible achievements in para swimming and services to the charity.
Ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, we caught up with Matt to discuss his journey into swimming and how he hopes to inspire future champions in the pool.
Q.) Did you try lots of different sports as a child or did you solely focus on swimming?
I tried lots of different sports throughout school like rugby, cricket, golf and snooker but swimming was recommended by physios to my parents from a young age.
Q.) Describe the main benefits you felt personally from training and playing sport when a child and young adult?
The main benefits from swimming were keeping my muscles from getting tight, which I did not realise at the time was benefiting me. Also, meeting other people like myself at swimming events.
Q.) You won many medals when competing at Paralympics, World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games. What did it mean for you to represent Team England at the biggest sporting events?
It was a major honour to represent to Great Britain at swimming events, but it meant more to be the only English disability swimmer to swim in Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
Q.) What was the highlight of your swimming career?
The highlight of my swimming career was achieving the best I could do in each race, in Beijing winning 5 five medals from five swims.
Q.) You received an MBE for your services to disabled sports, how special was that moment for you and how do you hope to use your platform to have a positive impact on disabled sport?
The moment I received my MBE was a great honour especially as my family was with me and receiving it from the queen. Since receiving my MBE and my success in Paralympics I have been involved in swimming events with CP sport as an ambassador, also Manchester city council and COMAST set up the Matt Walker Disability Swimming Academy to encourage and support the next generation to become a Paralympic swimmer.
Q.) How important do you think it is that disabled people are given opportunities to compete in sports and be able to pursue a career in a sport?
It is especially important that everybody should be given the same opportunities to try whatever they wish to try even though it may need to be differentiated.
Q.) What advice would you give to disabled people who are thinking about trying sport?
Give it a go and see what you can achieve, and remember to thank your family that support you and help you to be the person you are.
To follow the Commonwealth Games and for a schedule of events, visit the following link: birmingham2022.com.
Check out how you can get involved in swimming by visiting our dedicated page: cpsport.org/swimming
Finally, if you are interested in joining Matt’s academy and attending his swimming sessions, use the following link for full details: Matt Walker MBE Disability Academy