Matthew Robertson in Lee Valley VeloPark
Aged 16, Matthew Robertson is the 2015 Youth Road Circuit Paracycling National Champion and a regular attendee at the track clinics and structured quality training sessions at Lee Valley VeloPark. Currently studying psychology and sport at Corelli College in Kidbrooke, South East London, whilst competing in a heavy race schedule, his aim is to be part of the team in the Japan Olympics of 2020.
Matthew has right side hemiplegia, a neurological condition which affects the part of the brain that controls movement. In early 2014, he joined Woolwich Cycling Club to take up competitive cycling after being inspired by watching Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic cyclists perform at Lee Valley VeloPark during the London 2012 track cycling competition.
“The Olympics really inspired me to learn how to cycle,” he said. “ I’d always wanted to learn to ride but my condition prevented me from doing so. I was so in awe of the Olympic races. The agility, speed and skill of the riders was something I felt that I needed to be a part of and I set about making my dream a reality.”
Matthew rides a regular two wheeler bike with adapted handlebars that feature gears and brake levers specifically on the left side. He found that as well as helping to strengthen muscle tissue, cycling has also helped build his confidence.
In the short time he’s been cycling, Matthew won the silver medal in the Youth Omnium at the Para Internationals and set a National C2 Record for the flying 200m. Winning three golds and two silvers in the UK School Games Para competition, gave him first place in the overall para-cycling omnium.
“Chris Hoy is my hero,” he reveals. “He has achieved great things in his career, is very specific in his discipline and did amazingly well in the Olympics and track competitions. There’s so much to aspire to.
“Cycling is one of the most satisfying and surprising sports there is. Things can change very quickly, and you can have so many ups and downs when cycling competitively but it keeps you on your toes and pushes you to your maximum ability.”
Matthew’s training is split between track and road cycling to cover as many disciplines as possible. Leading up to next season’s UK School Games at the Manchester Velodrome and other national level competitions such as the Para Road Series, he hopes to improve his sprinting times and is competing in the track league at Lee Valley VeloPark.