Robert Matthews (athlete)

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Robert Matthews
Personal information
Born (1961-05-26) 26 May 1961 (age 55)
Country  United Kingdom
Sport Paralympic athletics

Robert Matthews MBE (born 26 May 1961) is an athlete who competes in blind middle and long distance events. He is a former British Paralympian who won eight gold medals across seven Paralympic Games. He retired in 2004 but is due to return at the 2012 Summer Paralympics as a cyclist representing New Zealand.[needs update] He has been referred to as an "iconic athlete" of the Paralympic Games.

Personal life[edit]

Matthews was born in Kent.[1] He was born with the degenerative eye condition retinitis pigmentosa which he inherited from his father.[2] He started to have significant difficulties with his vision when he was 11,[2][3] losing most of his sight by age 18. From age 13 he attended a school for the partially sighted and went on to study at a college for the blind.[2] In 1993 Matthews moved to Leamington to work for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.[1]

Matthew's first wife Kath died suddenly in November 2003.[3] Kath was 38 when a blockage in the brain interfered with her breathing. Three years later he met his current wife Sarah Kerr and soon after emigrated to New Zealand to be with her.[2] The couple have two children.[1]

In 1987 Matthews became the first Paralympian to be received an MBE, and he was given an honorary master's degree from Warwick University in 2001.[4]

Matthews is a sports massage therapist and motivational speaker. His autobiography was published in 2009.[2]

Sporting career[edit]

Matthews first competed at the Paralympics in 1984 at the Stoke Mandeville/New York Games. He started off in the B1 class middle and long distance events, winning gold in all three disciplines: the 800 m, 800 m, 1,500 m, and 5,000 m. Four years later, at the Games in Seoul, he retained all three titles. He again won the 5,000 m in 1992, and finished with a silver in the 800 m and bronze in the 1,500 m. This brought his medal tally to 13, eight of which are golds.[5]

In his career Matthews has broken 22 world records. In 1986 he became the first blind runner to run the 800 m in under two minutes.[2] He is listed as one of eight "iconic athletes" in the London 2012 Guide to the Paralympic Games.[6]

Matthews retired from (track and field) athletics after failing to win a medal at the 2004 Games in Athens.[1][5] He began to concentrate on a new sport and is hoping to compete in blind cycling events at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, this time representing New Zealand.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bob Matthews aims for eighth Paralympic Games". BBC News. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Rattue, Chris (24 October 2009). "Paralympics: The blind runner with a crystal-clear vision". NZ Herald. APN Holdings NZ Limited. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Rowbottom, Mike (18 September 2004). "Athletics: 'Running is like a safety valve. It helped keep me sane and it gave me a goal'". The Independent. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Coventry 2012 - Hall of Fame". Coventry City Council. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Athlete Search Results - Robert Matthews". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "London 2012 Guide to the Paralympic Games" (PDF). London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. 2007. p. 10. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 

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