“I Want To Prove I'm Not Just a Disabled Climber”

Matthew Phillips
(Image credit: Unknown)

The Paralympic Games are upon us. One athlete who won’t be in Rio, but is already lining up a spot at a future Paralympics, is 15-year-old Matthew Phillips, who was born without his right arm below the elbow and is already part of the GB Paraclimbing Team.

What originally got 
you into climbing?

The first times that I ever went rock climbing were 
at parties, and I always 
really enjoyed that. I was 
a swimmer before but it began to get quite dull, and 
I needed something new. 
I went along to the London edition of the Paraclimbing series, which is the event 
to get into the team, and 
I managed to come second there. I then went on to seek professional coaching, and 
I haven’t stopped since.

Is there someone who inspired you?

The people who inspired me have always been the people who overcome anything they have in their past and go for it. I want to prove that I’m 
not just a disabled climber – 
I can be as strong as any of the other climbers can be. My coach Robin O’Leary has always been a big inspiration for me. He’s been really supportive and helped me push myself.

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What are you looking forward to in the Paralympics?

I was a national swimmer. 
My aim was to get into the Paralympics there. I didn’t manage to do that, but 
it means a lot to me. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m really looking forward to watching the swimming in particular.

Sport climbing will 
be on the Olympic 
roster in 2020, and they’re pushing for
 inclusion in the 
Paralympics, too. Is that 
an aim for the future?

Definitely. It’s always something I’ve wanted to 
do. Hopefully it will make it in. It would mean a lot to me to compete. It’s a goal of mine to prove that everybody who is disabled can do any sport they want if they really want to.

Matthew stars in this 
year’s Channel 4 Paralympics advert Yes 
I Can. You can watch over 600 hours coverage of the Paralympic Games across all Channel 4 platforms.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.