We were truly delighted and honoured to receive a visit on Thursday 12th January from Paralympian swimmer, Matt Wylie. It was an opportune time to welcome Matt to Fellside given that we are thinking about ‘inspiration’ for our assembly theme this week – and how inspired we were having met him and hearing his story.
Matt shared his ‘Road to Rio’ journey with us, telling us all about the hard work and dedication that comes with being a full-time athlete. We were interested to know all about his arduous training schedule, and about all of the sacrifices he has to make to be in the best physical condition before a race. We were interested to hear, for example, that Matt has to drink a lot of beetroot juice. That sounds like dedication to us! However, even top athletes have to have a day off now and again – and when he does, Matt enjoys a chocolate profiterole – just like the rest of us!
Matt was very generous in letting every single Fellside girl and boy wear and hold his precious gold medal – and we were astounded at just how heavy it was! Interestingly, the ‘gold’ medal is actually 94% silver! Matt’s medal, because he is a Paralympian, had some special modifications – some of the writing engraved on it was done in Braille. Additionally, we learnt that Brazil was the first host nation to insert special beads inside their winners’ medals (that make a sound when shaken) to further assist the blind athletes. Astonishingly, the beads are different in the bronze and silver medals, making the pitch different when they are shaken. He told us that blind athletes can tell the gold, silver and bronze medals apart just by listening to the different sounds they make.
It is difficult to sum up just how superb the morning with Matt (and his mum!) was. He very patiently answered all of the children’s questions and told us some really fascinating stories about his life as an athlete so far. We are so very grateful that he could fit us into his busy training schedule.
We wish Matt every future success and will be cheering him on in his next race!
Here’s a selection of photographs for you to enjoy.