HPE teacher talks about his life as an elite athlete
Teacher and past student of A.B. Paterson College, Matthew Stopel, is one of Australia's top discus throw athletes. In his own words, Matthew talks about his passion for his chosen sport and how that is translating into his love of coaching young students at the College.
My discus throwing career started at A.B Paterson College in 1999. My first experience of discus throwing was at the Junior School Athletics Carnival, where I broke the 9 year olds record after a quick lesson from the teachers on the event. From there, my passion for the event and the sport of athletics has grown into what it is today.
The sport has given me the opportunity to travel and train with the best in the world. In 2009, I was fortunate enough to travel to Japan with my coach to train with the Olympic and World Champion Hammer Thrower, Koji Murofushi. The experience I gained was invaluable and informs my practice as an athlete and a coach today. I currently train 12-15 hours per week, which includes technique, throwing and strength training through Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting. As a discus thrower, I am young; many world class athletes compete into their thirties and I plan to do the same.
My achievements to date include representing Australia at the Commonwealth Youth Games in India (2008) for Discus and Hammer Throw, and achieving the standard to be included in the IAAF World Discus Rankings in U18 (2007), U20 (2009) and, most recently, the Open Age rankings in 2013. This year I was not selected in the Commonwealth Games team to compete in Glasgow, despite achieving the entry standard. 2014 was my first year competing in the Australian Athletics Tour Meets, which gave me the opportunity to travel around the country to compete against the best in Australia. I am currently ranked 4th on the Australian rankings.
Achieving my goals would not have been possible without the long term support and guidance of my coach, Brett Green. To date, I have been training with him for 12 years and I look forward to sharing the highs and lows of training and competitions with him for years to come. The knowledge he has passed on to me has allowed me to become a successful independent athlete and a throws’ coach. I really enjoy coaching throws, as I am able to pass on my knowledge and experience to the younger generation of throwers.
I have my eyes set on competing at the 2017 World Championships to be held in London, and then the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. It would be an honour and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in my own city with my friends and family there to support.
When I started out, throwing provided me with a sense of belonging. I have formed great friendships that still exist today and I hope that I can help others feel that same sense of community and personal achievement that I have experienced.