Matt Levy is a Jewish Australian paralympic swimmer headed to his fifth Paralympics this summer. Levy, 34, is a gold medalist and world champion who competes in the freestyle, butterfly and medley races for Team Australia.
Here are 18 things to know about Matt, who made his Paralympic debut back in 2004, and is now the oldest member of the Australian para swimming squad.
1. Matt Levy was born in Sydney, Australia, on January 11, 1987 to parents Penny and Michael Levy. He has a sister, Brooke.
2. Making his entrance premature at 25 weeks, he was born with cerebral palsy and a vision impairment. Matt has undergone 50-plus operations — on his brain, heart, lungs, ears and more.
3. “During the time that I was growing up, I found it hard to come to terms with my disability. It was difficult to comprehend the magnitude of it and accept the hand that I’d been dealt. But the values and beliefs that were instilled in me through my parents and my peers were vitally important,” Matt writes.
4. He first started swimming as part of rehabilitation when he was 5 years old, to keep his body moving.
5. In 2000, when he was 12, he realized he could compete as a swimmer, watching the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. “I saw many swimmers competing in events with far worse disabilities than my own and I developed a burning desire to join them at the next Paralympics,” he recalls.
6. At 12, he writes, “I competed for the first time at the NSW state championships – not particularly successfully but competition was now in my blood.”
7. He attended St. Andrew’s Cathedral School.
8. Matt made his Paralympic debut at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. At the 2008 Beijing Games, he won his first medal — a gold medal in the 4×100 m medley relay. At the 2012 London Games he won five medals (a gold, a silver and three bronze medals), and at the 2016 Rio Games, he won a bronze medal.
9. He’ll be competing in his 5th Paralympic Games this summer in Tokyo. “Proud to say I have made my 5th Paralympic Games in Tokyo!” Levy said. “It was a hard road to get to this point with Covid, and all that sport throws. But [I’m] proud to put on the green and gold in 8 weeks’ time.” Here he is with his ticket to Tokyo:
10. He is the reigning Commonwealth Games champion in the men’s 50m freestyle S7, and current S7 world record holder in the men’s 200m freestyle.
11. He competes as a S7 swimmer.
12. In 2014, Levy was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2014 Australia Day Honours for service to sport. So now he goes by Matt Levy, OAM.
13. In 2020, he published a book, “Keeping Your Head Above Water: Inspirational Insights from a Champion of Life.” (It’s filled with incredible childhood photos, and a lot of motivational tips.)
15. He graduated from Swinburne University of Technology with a bachelor of business; he majored in management. He recently got his MBA from the University of Canberra.
16. He now works at Westpack, Australia’s oldest bank, as a project manager, while also competing as a swimmer.
17. In 2017 at the Maccabiah Games (the Jewish Olympics), Levy became the first person in Maccabiah history to break a world record while competing. He broke it in the 200m freestyle s7.
18. “Participants in Maccabiah are really passionate about what they do and it’s great to be a part of it and experience it,” Matt said. “It’s a great experience and great to be in Israel and seeing how everyone does their thing.” Ahead of the 2022 Maccabiah Games, Matt was named a team ambassador.
Let’s end with this fun intro video on Matt:
Good luck in Tokyo!
Bonus: A custom Matthew Levy trading card, just for you!!