29 November, 2023

Paralympian gives inspiring speech at Exchange Hotel

Australian Paralympic gold medal winner Matt Levy gave a presentation which attracted ample interest from the attendees at the Kilcoy Exchange Hotel on Wednesday night last week.

By Liam Hauser

Guest speaker Matt Levy (right) with event sponsor Jayne McKenzie, at last week’s Kilcoy Chamber of Commerce event at the Exchange Hotel.
Guest speaker Matt Levy (right) with event sponsor Jayne McKenzie, at last week’s Kilcoy Chamber of Commerce event at the Exchange Hotel.

Matt was invited to speak at the Kilcoy Chamber of Commerce event, courtesy of Somerset Health, Fitness and Weight Loss Centre owner Jayne McKenzie who sponsored the event.

Matt spoke about overcoming challenges, and he referred to particular events that made a huge impact on him while also mentioning strategies that helped him to succeed.

Matt also brought along numerous copies of his book titled ‘Going the distance: Identify and create your own lane to success’.

Born premature with cerebral palsy, Matt has also lived with a vision impairment and has had more than 40 operations.

Having competed at five Paralympic Games and achieved numerous gold, silver and bronze medals, Matt focused on steps to success.

“For me it was about creating tools for success, and I realised that success isn’t just about achievements, it isn’t just about touching the wall first or having a gold medal, or doing well in business, or doing well in school,” he said.

“It’s about having a plan but also having tools to get there.”

Matt referred to a period of time when he didn’t make a final or achieve any personal bests, saying he had been worried about others including the person in the lane next to him, and someone who was training on the other side of the world.

“We control how we approach things and what we do and how we act, so it was really important for me to control the controllables, and not try and focus on everything else that was happening,” he said.

Matt also recalled playing with his friends on play equipment at Olympic Park one particular day, when he forgot the time to get back on the bus to return to school.

The then 12-year-old Matt needed to find a way to get back home, about 70km away, and he had to work out the directions and which buses or trains to use while there were no mobile phones or social media.

“It was the start of a lesson in terms of growth mindset and really kind of understanding that goals might not be something that we plan for…it was around three or four hours later, a lot of wrong turns, a lot of asking questions of strangers and blank looks from the general public,” Matt said.

“But eventually I got home, eventually I walked through that door, but it was a big lesson in not just courage, mindset and perseverance, but also how we break down goals, and how we understand what goals are.”

Matt also recalled missing out on a place in the 2006 Commonwealth Games by a fraction of a second, and then training for more than 10 years to earn selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“It’s not so much about the end goal, it’s about the whole experience and the whole process to get there,” he said.

“It’s always about the journey and what I’ve been able to learn throughout that process.”


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