A SHROP­SHIRE LAD

Mountain Biking UK - - OUT FRONT -

The UK down­hill scene is renowned for breed­ing some of the world’s top rac­ers, and that’s a rep­u­ta­tion that looks set to con­tinue, with Matt Walker prov­ing him­self to be the fastest Ju­nior in the world this year.

Not only did the 18-year-old pin­ner take home a gold medal from Cairns, but he also fin­ished third over­all in the Ju­nior World Cup se­ries, de­spite miss­ing one round due to a crash, af­ter a sea­son-long bat­tle with arch ri­val Finn Iles, of Canada.

As some­one with a truly ded­i­cated ap­proach to train­ing and rac­ing, we were keen to find out what makes this lad from rural Shrop­shire tick. “I’m only happy when I know I’ve done the best I can do,” he says. “I live to win races, and when I say I want it, it comes from the heart.”

Matt has been rid­ing bikes as long as he can re­mem­ber. “I was al­ways build­ing sketchy jumps as a kid, be­fore my dad started tak­ing me out rid­ing,” he re­calls. “I hated the up­hills and loved the down­hills, so noth­ing’s changed there, haha! I was in­stantly hooked when I went to watch my first race in 2011, and since then it’s be­come my whole life, but that’s the way it has to be to get to the high­est level.”

Af­ter Matt won the Ju­ve­nile Na­tional Champs in 2013, he was of­fered a place on Madi­son Sara­cen’s de­vel­op­ment team. “I bagged two [Youth] na­tional se­ries ti­tles in the next cou­ple of years, and I couldn’t have been hap­pier when I was of­fered a fac­tory team ride for 2016,” he says. Suc­cess quickly fol­lowed, with Matt win­ning his first Ju­nior World Cup round that April.

So, what’s next? “My as­pi­ra­tions are to be right up there at the top of the sport in the fu­ture,” says Matt. “But for now, I just want to keep en­joy­ing rid­ing my bike!”

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