Matthew Cowdrey

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Quick Facts

Left arm limb deficiency
How acquired
Date of Birth
Thu, 22/12/1988
Seaton, SA
Student – Law and Media
Started Competing
First Competed for Australia
Games Experience
Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012
Wayne Bennett
Career Highlights
Winning five gold, three silver and breaking five world records in Beijing 2008
Greatest Moment
Winning the 4x100m medley relay and beating the Chinese team in Beijing


In London 2012, Matthew Cowdrey made history by becoming Australia’s most successful Paralympian ever. Matthew won five gold, two silvers and a bronze medal in London to bring his total gold medal haul to 13 and eclipse track sprinter Tim Sullivan’s previous record of 10 gold medals from three Games. He also passed Australian swimmer Kingsley Bugarin’s overall medal haul of 19 medals, with Matthew now having won a total of 23 Paralympic medals.

Not only did Matthew cement himself in Australian sporting history, he also won gold in his pet events, the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley at three consecutive Games. Matthew’s successful London campaign backed up his Beijing Games where the multiple world record holder was Australia’s top medalling athlete along with fellow swimmer Peter Leek, and was named the IPC’s Male Athlete of the Year as well as the APC’s Paralympian of the Year.

Born with a congenital amputation to his lower left arm, Matthew started swimming at the age of five and was determined to not just be as good as any able bodied person, but to be better. Having set his goals for success, he quickly stamped his mark on his S9 classification, breaking his first Australian open record at age 11 and world record at age 13.

As well as multiple Paralympic titles, Matthew also holds six world championship titles after the 2010 World Championships and has two Commonwealth Games gold medals both from the 2006 Games where he was the only Australian male swimmer to win individual gold, and the 2010 Games.

After moving from his home in Adelaide to train at the AIS in the lead up to London, Matthew moved to the Sunshine Coast before returning to Adelaide for his final preparations. He is also a keen golfer and in 2010 competed at the South Australian Amateur Amputee Golf Championships, is a passionate supporter of American football and would put his last $10 on the Adelaide Crows to win the AFL Premiership.

Matthew is currently studying media and law at Adelaide University and works at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. When his swimming career is over, he hopes to be posted overseas working in foreign affairs.

Sport & Disciplines

Sport: Swimming
Disciplines: 50m freestyle
Classification: S9
Sport: Swimming
Disciplines: 100m freestyle
Classification: S9
Sport: Swimming
Disciplines: 100m breaststroke
Classification: SB8
Sport: Swimming
Disciplines: 100m backstroke
Classification: S9
Sport: Swimming
Disciplines: 100m butterfly
Classification: S9
Sport: Swimming
Disciplines: 200m individual medley
Classification: SM9
Sport: Swimming
Disciplines: 4x100m freestyle relay
Classification: 34 points
Sport: Summer Sports
Disciplines: 4x100m medley relay
Classification: 34 points