PROUD 400m silver medal winner Matthew Hamilton has spoken of his delight at making it onto the podium at the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports’ World Junior Championships at Stoke Mandeville.
The Basildon AC sprinter, who is a pupil at King John School sixth-form, ran the race of his life in the under-23 400m, to finish second in 54.77 seconds.
Hamilton, who is just 17, medalled in his first major championships and beat runners from Russia, Thailand and Bulgaria, while just failing to catch the Russian gold medallist.
The teenager, who is coached by Basildon AC’s Matt Lumm, said: “I’ve never run like that before in my life.
“I don’t know where that performance came from. I broke my own personal best (PB) by 1.22 seconds.
“It was pretty scary because you’re up against runners from lots of other nations and then I made an accidental false start which did not help things at all.”
But Hamilton’s game plan of just going full out from the start came into its own once the race was underway.
Spurred on by his mother Tracy and other family members, he was holding his own for the first 200m against older, stronger runners, but then he and a Russian competitor begame to open up a gap.
He said: “I was running so fast and in the last 100m or so I was gaining on the Russian, so I know that I am capable of even more.
“Considering it was my first international ever I think I did pretty well to get a silver.
“The GB team bosses had suggested that I race in the under-23s rather than in the under-18s because they felt that I would benefit from the competition. And it looks like they were right. “It was an incredibly exhausting esperience, but really good to meet and hang out with so many other athletes from so many other nations – even though communication was difficult at times,” he added.
Silver star - Matt with his medal
One unexpected bonus of having done so well in the T47 class is that Hamilton has now had his race category changed to T46.
This may not sound like a lot, but it opens up new sporting possibilities for the teen who has very little strength or maneuverability in his right hand, arm and shoulder, because of a condition called Erbs Palsy which he sustained at birth.
Hamilton said: “Before I was restricted to racing up to and including 400m.
“Now I can do any distance event right up to the marathon and that’s something I’m interested in having a go at.”
Despite his summer’s main sporting test now out of the way, there will be little rest for Hamilton who is racing the 100m and 200m at the Bedford Open in a few weeks time, plus trying out in the javelin.
Then he will change from track spikes to cycling cleats at the start of September when he takes part in the UK School Games in Manchester.
Hamilton is down to race in the flying 200m, the 500m the 2k event at the home of British national track cycling.