COWDREY Matthew < Back  
Sport Para Swimming
CGA Australia   
Gender Men
Born 22 Dec 1988 in Adelaide, AUS
Height1.82 m
Weight 76 kg
Human Interest
Impairment Information
Type of Impairment Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment Congenital
Classification S9, SB8, SM9
Further Personal Information
Residence Adelaide, SA, AUS
Languages English
Higher education Law, Media Studies - University of Adelaide: Australia
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport? He took up swimming at age five in Adelaide, SA, Australia and began competing at age eight.
Why this sport? His parents introduced him to swimming lessons so he would be safe in the family pool. Later on, he became addicted to competing against able-bodied swimmers. "It was just always that competitive edge and being able to push myself against the able-bodied competitors that really got me hooked on the sport."
International Debut
Year 2004
Competing for Australia
General Interest
Nicknames Matt (ausport.gov.au, 18 Dec 2009)
Hobbies Playing golf, supporting American football team the New York Giants. (ausport.gov.au, 18 Dec 2009)
Hero / Idol Australian swimmer Keiren Perkins. (swimming.org.au, 22 Nov 2010)
Sporting philosophy / motto "You only get out what you put in." (swimming.org.au, 22 Nov 2010)
Awards and honours He was inducted into the Australian Path of Champions in 2014. The Path of Champions recognises the achievements of Australia’s top athletes. (swimswam.com, 21 Oct 2014)

He was named the Swimmers’ Swimmer of the Year by Swimming Australia in 2012. (Swimming Australia, 24 Nov 2012)

He was Australia's flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (paralympic.org.au, 18 Dec 2009)

He won the Australian Swimmer of the Year with a Disability award for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. (paralympic.org.au, 18 Dec 2009)

He was named 2008 Male Paralympian of the Year by the International Paralympic Committee. (paralympic.org, 18 Dec 2009)

He received World Swimming Magazine's award for 2007 World Swimmer of the Year with a Disability. (paralympic.org.au, 18 Dec 2009)

In 2005 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his performances at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. (itsanhonour.gov.au, 18 Dec 2009)
Impairment He was born with a congenital amputation below the elbow of his left arm. The challenge of swimming against able-bodied athletes had him hooked on the sport from day one. "When I was pretty young still, in primary school, I was able to make the state 'able-bodied' swimming team, with South Australia not being the best and most competitive state, I was able to keep up and win medals." He says he does not look at himself as a person with an impairment. "It has not stopped me doing anything, except maybe swinging off monkey bars when I was five." (abc.net.au, ausport.gov.au, 27 Sep 2010)
Other information RETIREMENT
He announced his retirement from competitive swimming in February 2015. (swimswam.com, 09 Feb 2015; smh.com.au, 14 Sep 2016)

PARALYMPIC SUCCESS
He became the most successful Australian Paralympian when he captured eight more medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, taking his overall tally to 23 medals including 13 gold. South Australian state premier Jay Weatherill said the main pool at Adelaide's SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre would be named in Cowdrey's honour. "I was blown away when they asked me about re-naming the pool. It's a huge honour and to have my name associated with it is quite humbling." (paralympic.org, 12 Sep 2012; heraldsun.com.au, 25 Sep 2012)

FUTURE POLTICIAN
In 2014 he completed a three-month internship in the office of US congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Washington, DC, United States, and he also has experience of working in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, ACT, Australia. He would like to pursue a career in politics when he has finished his competitive swimming career. (smh.com.au, 03 Apr 2014)

HISTORY MAKER
He was the youngest member of Australia's swim team at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. He was also the first swimmer with an impairment to make South Australia's able-bodied state swimming team. (paralympic.org.au, 18 Dec 2009; messenger-news.whereilive.com.au, 24 Jul 2008; abc.net.au, 27 Sep 2010)