Matthew’s international goal

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By Angela Walker

MATTHEW Johnson has his travel plans sewn up for the summer starting with a trip to Turkey in July to swim for Great Britain in the European Youth Olympic Festival.

There’s barely a chance for 15-year-old Matthew from Thornhill to wash his Great Britain tracksuit before he heads off again to the main event of his swimming year, the World Youth Games in Peru in August.

Matthew’s selection for the two biggest events in his short career comes on the back of some impressive performances at the British Gas Championships held in Manchester earlier this month.

Matthew, a student at Spen Valley Sports College, swims for the City of Sheffield Club and was competing at his first major adult championships. Swimming a number of different strokes and at distances from 200m to 1550m Matthew won heats and qualified for several finals.

Matthew also broke several of his own junior records at the championships to earn his place in the British team for the European Olympic event and the World Youth Games.

Dad Ian explained: “Matthew changed all sorts of things in training some of the things worked and some didn’t but it was his first major championships and we were satisfied with the way most things went, there are always things we can learn and improve on, but he did the job.”

Because of Matthew’s talent and his incredible stamina for his age he has competed in events across the board, regularly picking up 10 or more gold medals at junior national competitions but the feeling is that he will have to become more of a specialist concentrating on fewer strokes and distances. Despite gearing his training to the 200m butterfly, 400m freestyle and 400 Individual Medley in the run up to Manchester he also made an impressiont in the 1500m freestyle.

Matthew was mixing with some of the top swimmers in Manchester and received recognition.

While Matthew treats suggestions that he might qualify for the Olympic Games in London next year lightly there is no doubt he has come a long way in very short time and outstanding performances for GB will do his chances no harm.

Despite the honours and awards Matthew has not forgotten his roots and next Monday will be presenting the prizes at the Kirklees Schools swimming gala. Amazingly it is only five years since he was competing in the very same competition.