Matthew Clarke - Athletics/running
My running journey started in high school. I was fortunate enough to go to Xavier College (being originally from Victoria), which had a strong athletics and cross-country program which gave me a taste for the sport at an early age. Recurring injuries through late high school lead me to give the sport away for a few years, instead enjoying a broader range of sports such as cricket, soccer and AFL. It was not until second year university that I took up running again and from there I quickly fell in love with the sport again.
I was able to train alongside some of the best runners in the country such as Peter Bol (4th Tokyo Olympics, 800m) as well as be a guide runner for Jaryd Clifford (Paralympic Silver medalist, T12). Looking up to and being a part of some of these athletes’ journeys gave me a taste for elite running and this eventually led me to move from Melbourne to Adelaide to train with Adam Didyk (Team Tempo) in pursuit of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
After having a disappointing first year after the move, I was given a second chance when covid delayed the Olympics. I took this opportunity with everything I could and the following year I ran personal best times in the 1500m, 5000m and 3000m steeplechase. The 16+ second improvement in the steeple was just enough to narrowly secure the last spot on the Australian Olympic team and I was able to achieve a childhood dream of qualifying for and running in an Olympic Games for Australia.
The best thing about being a SASI Athlete
The access to numerous professionals such as physiologists, psychologists, dieticians etc to keep me pushing the boundaries of areas to improve and assess if my training is working as desired.
My favourite food to fuel me as an Athlete
I love BBQs and in particular red meat to help me recover. Usually also combined with a generous serving of potatoes to then give me the energy to go the next day.
My favourite movie
The Matrix… Star Wars episode 3 very close second though.
My favourite colours
Green, colour of nature and pairs great with yellow when I represent my country!
My sporting hero and why
Lewis Hamilton: One of the most iconic sports people of the 21st century. He is able to remain composed at the highest pressure situations as well as using his fame to help draw attention to equality and human rights.
My Favourite possession
My race singlet I wore at the Olympics.
The sporting activity I most like performing
I love fishing, it clears my mind and gives me an opportunity to enjoy nature.
If I wasn’t doing my current sport I would like to be
A pro golfer.
The most important things in life
Enjoying the journey and being yourself.
My Ambassador Activity tip
Find what inspires you to keep active. If that is enjoying nature when you get out for a walk/run then focus on that, or it may be the drive to better yourself, or even socializing if you exercise with friends. Whatever it is, everyone has their own cues to enjoy exercise, keep working until you find yours and it will keep you in good stead for a healthy, active, happy life!
My favourite way to keep active
Having someone to be active with, I am a really social person and because I get to train with a group it feels like I get to just hang out with my mates and I get to stay active and achieve some big goals at the same time.
The sport I like watching the most
I am a big cricket guy, particularly love watching Australia in the Ashes.
What sporting success looks like
Having a plan, sticking to it, taking risks and knowing that you have chased your dream with everything you have had. Regardless of the result, you will never regret giving your best.