FORMER Sir Thomas Picton pupil Alex Matchett has realised a boyhood dream by gaining selection for the Welsh triathlon squad that will compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, writes Fraser Watson.
The 20-year-old will compete in the Games’ first ever mixed relay event, where two men and two women from each country will take turns to complete a sprint triathlon before tagging off a team mate.
His selection was confirmed last Tuesday - although Matchett admits he and other team members were privately informed last month.
“I have known about being selected for a few weeks now but I was still nervous until the actual announcement was made,” he told Telegraph Sport.
“You always need confirmation in situations like these - but now the squad has been finalised I’m thrilled to bits to be included.”
But the youngster, who turns 21 next month, admits that Tuesday was a ‘strange’ day for him.
“Straight after I was announced in the team I had to go and sit a University exam before heading out for training.
“My mobile phone was off during the exam so I had a load of missed calls and messages when I came out.”
And he will head to Glasgow in good form, having secured a fifth placed finish in the prestigious Bleinheim Triathlon on the weekend, a World renowned event with 7,000 entrants.
Matchett first started out in the sport with the Pembrokeshire Tri-stars when he was just five-years-old, after watching his father Steve compete in numerous triathlon events.
He has been competing for more than ten years, with highlights including a second placed finish in both the British Junior Triathlon Championships and British University Triathlon Championships - both in 2012.
This was despite enrolling to study medicine at Bristol University, and after completing two years of the course, he opted to switch to a one year sport science degree at Loughborough University last September.
He will return to the third year of his medicine course following the Games in September.
And he said the alteration was a necessary one in order to give himself a chance of making the Welsh squad.
“I usually train four times a day and medicine is an intense course so combining the two became very difficult.
“I knew I had to make a change if I was serious about making the team for Glasgow.”
Undoubtedly, the move has paid off and Alex admits the Games will represent his most significant challenge to date.
“I have ran in international events and European Cup races - but this will be by far the biggest race I have ever been involved in and I can’t wait for it.”
Joining Matchett in the squad will be former International Triathlon Union champions Non Stanford and Helen Jenkins, along with Holly Lawrence, Morgan Davies, and Liam Lloyd.
And he said the team will head to Scotland targeting a place on the podium.
“We know it’s going to be tough but we are definitely looking for a medal.
“The pedigree on the female side of our team speaks for itself - and now it’s up to us boys to back that up.”