Lumen - The University of Adelaide Magazine The University of Adelaide Australia
Lumen Summer 2013 Issue
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A Law Degree unto himself

It's instructive that Matt Cowdrey OAM - Australia's most successful Paralympian - considers himself to be more than a sportsman.

After winning a staggering 23 Paralympic medals - including 13 gold - across three Games, he's also nearing completion of a double degree in Media and Law at the University of Adelaide.

And he's still only 23 years old!

Matt was born without part of his left arm, and was swimming in his family's backyard pool by six months of age.

After starting competitive swimming at nine, he began to dream big after the Sydney Paralympics in 2000, which featured wheelchair racer Louise Sauvage.

"The next year we had a State development camp here in Adelaide and we were asked to write our goals down on a bit of paper, and I wrote down that I wanted to go to the Paralympics and win gold medals," he said.

"The coach came back and said 'I don't want you to write your dream down there - I want you to write a realistic goal' - so that was pretty funny."

Matt has committed to competing at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and hopes to extend that to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

His more immediate short-term focus is his studies and preparation for life after swimming.

He's completed his Media degree (and will graduate in April 2013), and hopes to finish Law by the end of 2013.

"I've always strived to do something away from the pool - it's not like I see myself as purely a sportsman. I've got a lot of goals outside of sport," he said.

Matt has already spent time working with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra and Brisbane, and is eyeing a career in that field.

"I kind of look at diplomatic service as another way I can represent Australia," he said.

"A lot of skills that I've learned from swimming translate over as well: the communicating, the ability to cope with huge varieties of personalities and those sorts of things."

For now, the focus is university.

"I'm lucky to have a Sports Ambassador Scholarship at the uni, and I've spoken at functions and events for the Development and Alumni Office.

"It's a way that I can give back and help the uni. I'm a very proud South Australian and very proud to be at the University of Adelaide - I've enjoyed my time here and have no problems endorsing the uni as much as I possibly can."

story by Ben Osborne

Above: Matt Cowdrey OAM at Hub Central, The University of Adelaide.

Above: Matt Cowdrey OAM at Hub Central, The University of Adelaide.
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