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Grassroots to Glory - Tom Matthews

Grassroots to Glory - Tom Matthews

Tom Matthews. Credit - British Paralympic Table Tennis
Tom Matthews. Credit - British Paralympic Table Tennis
Tom Matthews in his younger years. Credit - British Paralympic Table Tennis

Tom left hospital and didn't pick up a paddle for more than a year before watching London 2012. The table turned: soon, he was pestering Munkley for a chance to get back into the sport. He impressed in his first major championship in 2015, winning European bronze in Class 1 singles and team gold alongside Rob Davies. World bronze in 2018 cemented him as a Paralympic medal contender, his emergence the result of a relentless mentality that doesn't come across when you first meet him.

"Tom is very chilled off the table but he's quite intense in the sport," said Robinson, who won his own Paralympic gold in 1992.
"He's his own biggest critic and can be quite hard on himself sometimes. It's about getting the right balance right between being hard on himself and reflecting on positives."

The fortunes of ParalympicsGB have transformed over the past two decades with the boost of National Lottery funding and Matthews is one of a bumper 13-strong table tennis squad heading to Tokyo, led by reigning champion Will Bayley. Fellow gold medallist Davies was forced to withdraw from injury. His determination to join their number is clear, but not coming at the expense of enjoying his Japanese jaunt.

"I want to come away with a medal," he said.
"Realistically, it's my first Games and I want to enjoy the experience. If that ends up with a medal, I'd be more than happy but I'll be happy as long as I enjoy it.”

Tom spoke to Munkley “near enough every day” until his mentor passed away in 2017. As he picks up his paddle in Tokyo, he’ll be thinking of the best advice Jim ever gave him:

“Enjoy your life.
“Take every moment as it comes.
“The past is the past, you can’t change it. Change your future. Change what you’re going to do next.”

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has at http://www.lotterygoodcauses.o...;and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen

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