An article by RNSW Sports Journalism Scholarship Holder Annie Murphy
Matthew Ryan, 28, will be shooting for his first Olympic Gold medal in the men’s eight in London, following months of preparation and an avid desire to improve on a silver-medal performance in the coxless four at the Beijing Games.
Like many, Matt started rowing as a Year Nine student, in the illustrious surrounds of Sydney’s The Kings School. Rowing proved to be a family affair, with Matt’s sister rowing for Loreto Kirribilli and his father a successful senior Eights rower for Riverview.
Matt, who stands at 194 centimetres and weighs 90 kilograms, had the athletic talent to excel at a number of sports, and was at one stage balancing representative rugby commitments with his rowing.
In 2001, Matt represented his high school in the Junior Eight at the Henley Royal Regatta in England, claiming gold and bringing home the Princess Elizabeth Cup.
The next year he added to his haul, taking gold at the World Junior Rowing Championships in Lithuania in a coxed four. It was this result that set the pathway for his career in rowing, pushing him towards a place at Sydney University Boat Club and confirming his dream of representing Australia at an Olympic Games.
With a silver medal in Beijing and now a place in the London 2012 Australian rowing team, Matt has an impressive resume: he has represented Australia at six world championships, claiming a silver in the men’s coxless four in 2009 in Poland and a bronze medal in the men’s eight in New Zealand in 2010.
After the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Matthew married and now has a two-year-old daughter.
Matt’s mother, Lynne, is incredibly proud of her sons achievements.
“A constant highlight for me is being able to watch Matt compete at world events in many different countries,” she said.
“Matt’s wife is fully supportive of his rowing career and I think Matt has always maintained a positive attitude and a total commitment to his rowing.
“The thing that makes me most proud of Matt is the way he copes with, and rises above, any adversity that has come his way.”
And that adversity struck Matt just weeks ago, when a serious bout of salmonella poisoning left him hospitalised for five days. In a hurdle for his Olympic preparation, matt lost a staggering six kilograms.
“He did not let this major setback to his preparation for the games defeat him. He put in so much extra effort to get his fitness back,” Lynne said.