Matthew Syed

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Matthew Philip Syed
Born (1970-11-02) 2 November 1970 (age 45)
Nationality English
Occupation Sportscaster

Matthew Philip Syed (born 2 November 1970) is a British journalist and broadcaster. He has worked for The Times newspaper since 1999.

Prior to his journalistic career, Syed competed as an English table tennis international, and was the English number one for many years. He was three times the Men's Singles Champion at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships (in 1997, 2000 and 2001),[1] and also competed for Great Britain in two Olympic Games.[2]

Life and career[edit]

His father, Abbas Syed, is a Pakistani emigrant to Britain who converted from Shia Islam to Christianity, and his mother is Welsh.[3][4] He attended the Maiden Erlegh School in Earley near Reading, then studied PPE at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was awarded a prizewinning First.

A right-handed table-tennis player, Syed won many titles, but says that he "choked" at the Sydney Olympics: "when I walked out into the mega-watt light of the competition arena, I could hardly hit the ball."[5]

Syed has worked as a commentator for the BBC and Eurosport, and as a journalist for The Times since 1999. He is a regular pundit on radio and television, commentating on sporting, cultural and political issues. His film China and Table Tennis, made for the BBC, won bronze medal at the Olympic Golden Rings ceremony in Lausanne in 2008.

As a sports writer he won 'Sports Feature Writer' of the Year at the SJA Awards in 2008[6] and 'Sports Journalist of the Year' at the British Press Awards in 2009. His first book, Bounce, published by HarperCollins, was published in May 2010. It won the 'Best New Writer' category of the British Sports Book Awards (2011).[7] His style has been mocked by satirical magazine Private Eye.[8]

In 2015, Syed's second book, Black Box Thinking, in which he argues that the key to success is a positive attitude to failure, was published by John Murray.

Syed is managing director of a sports marketing company. From 1999, he has worked as a Marketing Consultant for the English Table Tennis Association based in Hastings. He was one of the co-founders of TTK Greenhouse, a sports-related charity.


Syed stood as the Labour Candidate in the 2001 UK General Election in Wokingham coming third in a safe Conservative seat.[9] Syed won a place on the Labour Party's shortlist to succeed Ashok Kumar for the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency in the 2010 UK General Election. However, the party selected Tom Blenkinsop, who had worked in Kumar's constituency office for six years.[10]


  1. ^ "Championships". Commonwealth Table Tennis Federation. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  2. ^ "Matthew Syed". British Olympic Association. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  3. ^ Matthew Syed (30 November 2013). "My father, the immigrant". The Times. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  4. ^ "Matthew Syed: An unlikely hero". The Independent (London). 18 July 2002. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  5. ^ "Should people accept that pressure is a fact of life?". BBC News. 1 May 2012. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Prior winners". British Sports Book Awards. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Private Eye, "Hackwatch", issue 1287, April 2011
  9. ^ "Vote2001 Results & Constituencies". (BBC News). Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  10. ^ Hetherington, Graeme (5 April 2010). "Tom Blenkinsop, a campaign manager with steel union Community, chosen". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 

External links[edit]