Owain Matthews: taking the triathlon world by storm

WE TALK to Owain Matthews about taking the triathlon world by storm, his passion for coaching and his former life as an international runner.

Owain Matthews

Owain Matthews had been running competitively for 15 years before he entered the world of triathlon. photo Marceau Photography

OWAIN MATTHEWS had been competitively running, representing both Wales and Great Britain, before he turned his attention to triathlon. It was a move to Australia that triggered his interest in the sport and since giving it a go he hasn’t looked back. 


In his first year in the sport he got his bike and swim up to standard to match his running and in his second year he started to win age group races over Olympic Distance. He has since gone on to compete and podium in Ironman races and is an accredited Triathlon Australia Performance Coach. He has also competed in two Olympic Distance Age Group World Championships and other major events around the world.


In this exclusive interview Owain talks about some of those triathlon and Ironman successes and goes into detail about his passion for coaching and mentoring the next generation of athletes. 




When did you start out in triathlon and who encouraged you to give the sport a go?

I did my first full season of Triathlon in 2012. I had been running competitively for 15 years with International representation for Wales and Great Britain. I had friends in the UK who were competing in triathlons and it started a bit of a spark in my mind. In 2011 my wife and I decided to move from the UK to Australia and I thought this was the perfect time to begin a new challenge, so I joined my local Triathlon Club (Balmoral Triathlon Club) in Sydney and it all took off from there.


Owain Matthews

In his second season of Triathlon I was lured by the temptation of Ironman.

Tell us about some of your earliest triathlon successes?


In my first year of triathlon my success was a bit limited. I was a poor swimmer and weak on the bike and although I consistently posted the fastest run times I was struggling to get on the podium. Over the next year I began to improve my swim and bike as I dedicated more training time to them and I started to win age group races over Olympic distance and made my first Age Group Worlds Team. In my second season of Triathlon I was lured by the temptation of Ironman and in 2013 I completed my first Ironman in Port Macquarie, finishing third in my category and was lucky enough to snag a spot to Kona.


Owain Matthews

Owain has competed in two Olympic Distance Age Group World Championships.

Where in the world has the sport taken you and what have been some of the highlights?


I have been lucky in my short time in the sport to compete in two Olympic Distance Age Group World Championships, 2 times at Kona and in 2016 I won my Age Group at the 70.3 World Championships in Mooloolaba. Aside from the success of competing the biggest gains have been in the amazing triathlon community I have become part of, traveling to races with friends and family and now giving back to the sport as an accredited Triathlon Australia Performance Coach.


Tell us about your phenomenal success you’ve had in Ironman races and the level it’s got you to?


Long distance racing was a bit of a whirlwind experience initially. Coming to the sport late and not having a swim and bike background I was easily drawn to the long format of triathlon racing. I watched the Australian Ironman in Port Macquarie in 2012 and was in awe of the amazing people taking part in the event and I signed up to race the following year as soon as entries opened.


Owain Matthews

Owain has had phenomenal success in Ironman races.

Although I have had some good success at Ironman, winning my Age Group at Ironman Western Australia in 2014 in 8.47, competing at Kona twice, I still feel that my best race distance is 70.3. I focused more on 70.3 racing in 2016 and won my Age Group at the 70.3 World Championships in Australia surrounded by friends and family – it doesn’t get much better than that for an amateur!


Long term, I would like to go back to Hawaii and try to win an age group World Championship one day, but at the moment with 2 small children, a full-time job and Triathlon Coaching, its much more manageable for me to race the 70.3 distance for now.


As a coach what is the message you try to instil on those you work with? What does coaching mean to you?


Coaching has always been a big part of my life, my progression as an runner and triathlete would have limited without the positive influence and knowledge of the great coaches I have had. I try to instil in my athletes the good values that I learned off my coaches, adding a little bit of my own personal experience to help build trust and good relationships.


Owain Matthews

Coaching is a big passion of Owain’s.

On top of striving for individual progression, I always encourage my athletes to keep perspective on why they participate in triathlon and what they want to achieve from their hard work, beyond just a focus on results. I think that having a positive experience can be just as rewarding.


To me, coaching has always been as much about the process and the relationships I have made, not just the external goals. Programming and directing training is a small part of what I believe a coach does, I feel that my role and my impact as a coach is larger and continues outside of the day to day training sessions. I hope to encourage my athletes to learn and to reflect on their own training and often I feel it’s my job to help them get to that point and to be more autonomous athletes.


What are you currently training for and how hard are you working? What other exciting projects do you have lined up for the year ahead and beyond?


I have had a few injury setbacks over the past few months and along with the birth of my second son I have been quite busy and struggled for training consistency. Currently I am back on track and training for Sunshine Coast 70.3 (September) and Western Australia 70.3 (December). My hope is that after these races I can assess whether an Ironman will be on the cards next year or whether to turn my attention to the Olympic Distance Age Group World Champs in Gold Coast 2018. I am training pretty solidly over Australian winter and trying to focus a bit on my swim and bike.


Owain Matthews

After a few injury setbacks and the birth of his son Owain wants to get back to competing soon.

Besides racing I am always involved in many activities in my local community. Coming up I have a collaboration with Lululemon Mosman and Vision Personal Training Mosman where we are running a clinic for those in the community racing the City2Surf. Working for Energylink Triathlon Coaching in Sydney, myself and the others coaches are developing a junior triathlon program in Association with Balmoral Triathlon Club to run in the 2017/18 Triathlon season.



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