Wirral Paralympian Matthew Harding is going for a powerlifting medal in Commonwealth Games
1 year ago
Wirral Paralympian Matthew Harding could add to an already incredible haul of sporting medals when he competes at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
When he was younger, Matthew was a world champion swimmer, collecting 45 gold and 30 silver medals and breaking the British record for the 50m and 100m breaststroke.
The former St Mary’s College pupil swept the board at the National Disability Championships when he was aged just 11, bringing home five golds from just that one competition.
He moved into Para Powerlifting last year, and tomorrow he’ll take on his biggest challenge to date in his new sport, competing for England in the Commonwealth Games.
The Para Powerlifting event will see 23-year-old Matthew aiming to bench press the heaviest weight possible in a total of three attempts, raising the barbell to hold an arms-locked position.
The three competitors who show the greatest strength and control, and manage to lift the heaviest weights at the end of the three rounds will take the medals.
Matthew will be up against some tough competition in the lightweight division, but he’s already shown he’s got what it takes for success when he made his international debut. He represented Team GB at the World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia at the end of 2021 and even though it was his first major powerlifting competition, he still came 6th in the world.
In April this year, he returned to his former college, Wirral Met, for a special ceremony in his honour.
The former sports student, who achieved a BTEC sport and exercise extended diploma in 2018 with double distinction, was presented with an award in recognition of his sporting excellence by Wirral Met Principal Sue Higginson and Mayor of Wirral, Cllr George Davies.
Matthew is one of the college’s sports ambassadors and regularly visits to give motivational talks to students about the hurdles he’s faced in the competitive sporting world.
He’ll be focusing on his training for the next Paralympic Games in Paris 2024 once the Commonwealth Games are over, but before that he’s looking forward to the Birmingham challenge.
“I can’t wait for it, it’ll be by far the biggest competition that I’ve ever done and especially from a young boy who dreamed about competing in the London Paralympics, it’s what dreams are made of,” he said.