Matthew in GB swim team

DEWSBURY swimmer Matthew Johnson has taken his career to an impressive new level by being selected for the Great Britain senior team, a big boost for his ambitions to swim at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Friday, 4th November 2011, 8:00 am

Matthew, 16, of Thornhill, heads to Szczecin, Poland, next month for the European Short Course Championships and the selection has huge significance as it puts Matthew’s career on the fast track.

Officially he is too young to compete in even the British Junior team but the Amateur Swimming Association’s senior coaches want to see him in action.

The main qualification meeting for the Olympics is at the London Aquatic Centre next March and when tickets went on sale they sold 13,500 in just one day.

The trip to Poland comes at the end of terrific year for Matthew. He won four golds and a silver at the European Youth Olympic Festival and a gold and a silver at the Commonwealth Youth Games. He also impressed at the World Championships in Peru as he set times way ahead of his age group.

Most recently he set great times at an event in Stockholm and also tested himself against senior opposition at a meeting to mark the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Pool. It was a poignant moment for Matthew who had visited the site when the first turf was cut.

Matthew has left Spen Valley Sports College for a school in Sheffield where he is studying for a BTEC sport advanced diploma and psychology. He has also been inducted into a two -year sports apprenticeship to run alongside training at Ponds Forge and competition. Despite up to 40 hours a week training, plus travel and schoolwork Matthew finds time to mentor swimmers at his first club at Spenborough.

Matthew has been shortlisted for a national prize – the AXA award – and is one of five young people in the sports section competing for a prize of up to £40,000 worth of professional sports mentoring. As part of his submission for the prize Diane McConnell, deputy head of Spen Valley Sports College said: “I know Matthew has a great future in swimming and he is desperate to succeed by getting to the very top.”

She added: “In my 34 years of teaching I have never met such a talented, ambitious, hard working young man who is also extremely humble.”

To reach the final stages Matthew needs public support. Visit www.ambitionaxa to vote for Matthew.