‘ Bling’ sparkles in elite group

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - SAM ED­MUND

HE missed his sis­ter’s wed­ding so as not to com­pro­mise his prepa­ra­tions for a race.

He also goes by the nick­name “Bling” for his pen­chant for sparkling adorn­ment and lav­ish cars.

Meet Michael Matthews – flashy ex­te­rior but fiercely driven in­te­rior.

The 26- year- old Aus­tralian rider for Team Sun­web will to­mor­row, bar­ring freak­ish mis­for­tune, be­come only the third Aus­tralian to win the Tour de France green jer­sey.

Matthews’ story is proof that when nat­u­ral ath­letic gifts are nur­tured by hard work and a stub­born de­ter­mi­na­tion, there is no ceiling.

The son of hair­dresser Donna and butcher Al­lan, Matthews was raised in the south­ern Can­berra sub­urb of Far­rer as a BMX- mad kid.

He was rac­ing them by seven be­fore mov­ing to mo­tocross. But caught up in the wrong crowd at school, Matthews could eas­ily have gone “the other way”.

That he didn’t might be due in large part to Des Proc­tor, the PE teacher at Matthews’ Mel­rose High School who opened some doors for the kid whose nat­u­ral fit­ness caught his eye.

Proc­tor urged Matthews to at­tend a tal­ent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ses­sion with the ACT Acad­emy of Sport at 15. With­out pre­par­ing, Matthews recorded a 15.8 beep test.

“They ba­si­cally said I’d be good at row­ing or cy­cling,” Matthews said years later.

But at 16, a fire was set off in­side Matthews and noth­ing was go­ing to put it out.

He will join Rob­bie McEwen ( 2002, 2004, 2006) and Baden Cooke ( 2003) as the only Aus­tralians to have won the green jer­sey.

England’s Chris Froome was well placed to take the over­all ti­tle for a fourth time head­ing into to­day’s time trial.

Michael Matthews.

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