Olympic stage a big learn­ing curve

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By DAVID HULME

He’s been dubbed “the Mata­mata Man­taray”, “the Silent As­sas­sin” and “Aquaman’’, and fol­low­ing his Lon­don Olympic cam­paign Matt Stan­ley is now look­ing for­ward to the 2014 Com­mon­wealth Games and the chance to win gold for New Zealand.

Vis­it­ing the Rotary Club of Mata­mata last week on his re­turn from the Lon­don Olympics, Matt was in­ter­viewed by his grand­fa­ther, Don Stan­ley, him­self a Life Mem­ber of Swim­ming New Zealand.

By his own ad­mis­sion, Matt was dis­ap­pointed with his per­for­mances at the Olympics but he said he had taken plenty of lessons from the event.

“I learnt a lot about my­self and my weak­nesses,” he said. “For me it is about be­ing more con­fi­dent in my­self and my abil­i­ties – I have to be able to block ev­ery­thing out and be in the zone.”

Matt, aged 20, said he had not felt ner­vous at the Olympics when walk­ing out to com­pete but he felt that his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence at the top level had counted against him.

“There were so many dis­trac­tions with the likes of the crowd and me­dia but you need to put blink­ers on and think about your­self and your race.

“When I stood on the blocks for the first race, there was a Great Bri­tain swim­mer next to me and the crowd went bal­lis­tic and you could not hear any­thing – it was like been in a night club stand­ing right next to the speak­ers.”

In earn­ing the right to com­pete at the Olympics, Matt had bro­ken the New Zealand record in both the 200m and 400m freestyle (for­merly held by dou­ble Olympic gold medal­list Danyon Loader).

“That had been a long time com­ing,” Matt told Ro­tar­i­ans. “It was a goal since I was 13 . . . it has been years in the mak­ing and it is one of the proud­est mo­ments in my life.”

Matt has trained un­der Mata­mata swim coach Graeme Laing (the son of Loader’s coach, Dun­can) for seven years, and al­though he now lives and stud­ies in Auck­land as part of Swim­ming New Zealand’s High Per­for­mance Squad, he still re­mem­bers the ground­ing from his home­town.

“I was lucky enough to have a club here in Mata­mata that a lot of towns this size don’t have and a coach like Graeme Laing. He has a huge amount of knowl­edge and that is how good ath­letes are pro­duced – the coach­ing and the fa­cil­i­ties.”

As part of the na­tional squad, Matt has a gru­elling train­ing sched­ule. Mon­day to Fri­day con­sists of about 14 kilo­me­tres in the pool – up to four hours – and a 90-minute gym ses­sion. Satur­day morn­ing is also taken up with train­ing.

That ded­i­ca­tion al­lowed Matt to break Loader’s records and fin­ish a cred­itable 15th in the 200m freestyle in Lon­don.

Matt has set his goals on win­ning a medal – “hope­fully a very shiny one” – at the Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow, Scot­land, with the long-term aim be­ing to make the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Swim­ming is be­com­ing so com­pet­i­tive now with the Phelps’, Lochtes’ and Thor­pes’ push­ing the bound­aries, get­ting the cov­er­age and bring more and more peo­ple into the sport,” Matt said.

How does Matt think he can get faster and im­prove? He said it was about build­ing strength and en­durance phys­i­cally and men­tally and set­ting goals.

“It is about work­ing out what your dreams are and step­ping back­ward from there to see what it is go­ing to take to achieve them.”

He's home: Don and Matt Stan­ley have a ca­sual chat at the Rotary Club of Mata­mata meet­ing last week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.