Gerald Matthew received his first Great Britain call-up last year, and the young sprinter has his sights set firmly on plenty more all the way to Tokyo 2020.
The 19-year-old from Luton competes in the 100m and 200m disciplines, and wants a place in the Britain squad at the Olympics in three years’ time.
The Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers athlete hailed the moment he received his first international call-up a couple of years ago as being a real turning point in his career.
He believes the experience, which left him bursting with pride, was a lesson in how he must now cope with the demands of competition and the pressures of being an athlete.
“I went on to run for England when I was 16 or 17,” Matthew said. “I had my first international, which was in Wales. From then on, I’ve done a few more internationals and in 2016 I got my first call up for Great Britain.
“My first international in Wales was surreal - I don’t think you realise what it means when you’re there.
“It’s only when you look back on it and reflect that that was where it all started internationally for me.
“I was younger then and I’ve grown so much as an athlete already. You have to grow mentally as an athlete to overcome injuries.
“Being able to handle the situations, pressures of competing and new places [is tough]. Wales wasn’t too bad but when you go abroad it’s different because people don’t speak the same language as you. To cope with nerves is more to do with you because no one can tell you not to be nervous.”
Matthew’s cause will now be helped by The Nottingham Building Society, funding athletes with £750 each which teams top up with fundraising throughout the year.Having already donated £190,000 to SportsAid to help athletes buy equipment, travel to competitions and receive the training they need to be the best they can, The Nottingham Building Society are now helping athletes on the path to Pyeongchang or Tokyo.
Matthew is currently juggling his sport with studying Business and Management at Aston University in Birmingham. While he undoubtedly has a lot on his plate, Matthew said he is adjusting to his hectic schedule, and the grant will play a huge role in spurring him on to greater achievements.
“At first I found it really difficult, I only found a balance between training and University one or two months in,” he said. “I got into a routine, spoke with my coach and worked out when was best to train because sometimes you have to change slightly based on exam periods.
“I’m really thankful to SportsAid and The Nottingham Building Society.
“Any kind of funding is really important, especially when, like me, you’re a university student.
“Their support goes a long way. SportsAid have been supporting me since the beginning of 2016 when I started representing Great Britain.
“I feel it is recognition for my achievements, which helps to motivate me further so I want to carry that on and replicate the same on a bigger stage in the future.”
Nottingham Building Society and Harrison Murray teamed up with SportsAid in 2013 to help future sports stars get their time to shine. Visit thenottingham.com to find out more.