FEATURE: Olympian Matthew Chau shares his Rio 2016 experience
Rio 2016 Olympian and BAV alumnus, Matthew Chau shares some reflections on his road to Rio – from his first time picking up a racquet to his Olympic debut. Here's what he had to say:
It is difficult to express in words the feeling of donning the green and gold for the first time. Elation. Ecstasy. Overwhelming pride and joy. For me it was a moment which was twelve years in the making. I may not have realised it when I was a chubby ten year old happily chasing a shuttle around the court in Kilsyth, but those were the first steps I was taking on a long Olympic journey which culminated in my representation at Rio in 2016.
The 3 week experience in Rio was everything I could have possibly asked for and more. Living in a village surrounded by the most talented and dedicated athletes in the world was absolutely surreal. Having dinner 10 metres away from USA’s ‘Dream Team’, sharing an apartment next to our very own Aussie ‘Boomers’, having the chance to speak to Anna Meares and Kim Brennan – two Australian sporting icons – these were just some of the opportunities I was granted at the Olympics. Of course, these were all before I even took to the courts.
Since returning to Australia I have been asked constantly what the best part of the Rio Olympics was. Was it the village? The food? The opening ceremony? While all these parts were undoubtedly amazing, the greatest part for me were the three matches Sawan and I played on the 11th, 12th and 13th of August. Over these three days I was truly enjoying my badminton and this lead to us playing what I believed to be our best badminton to date – I did not want it to end. Representing Australia on the Olympic stage just made you want to truly embody the Australian ‘never say die’ attitude and gave us something extra on court. And what became increasingly apparent while playing was that we were able to compete on the international stage with the best in the world. We could push them and probably should have come away with a game, or even a match. Ultimately, we left Rio without a win but knowing that the performance we gave was something we could be proud of.
Throughout the campaign, it has been important to remain appreciative of those who have been incredibly supportive from the start. My parents sacrificed so much time when I was young to take me to training and competitions – they must have spent just as many hours as I have at Kilsyth. My brother started training with me as well and has since been someone I can go to for advice whenever I have questions or doubts. My girlfriend has also been an amazing support as she constantly goes out of her way to make my life easier and puts up with my constant travelling. This support group was integral to my successful Olympic campaign.
Looking back at my Olympic campaign, which has now come to an end, I am extremely grateful to all my family, friends, coaches and partners who have helped me along the way. It is still hard to believe that not long ago I was a 10-year-old turning up to BAV for the first time, not knowing what I could achieve in this sport and what I would learn along the way. The entire journey, playing badminton throughout my life, has shaped me both on and off the court and I could not be more appreciative of the experiences I have had.