Australia's greatest Paralympian, swimmer Matt Cowdrey, is retiring

Matt Cowdrey after winning the gold medal in the Men’s 50m Freestyle – S9 Final at the London 2012. Photo: Christopher Lee/Getty Images.

One of Australia’s greatest athletes, swimmer Mathew Cowdrey, announced his retirement today, bringing an end to a career that saw him become the country’s most successful Paralympian, with 23 Paralympic medals, including 13 gold.

Cowdrey competed in three Paralympics. He was just 15 when he went to Athens in 2004, and demonstrated his remarkable talent to take home 3 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals.
At London in 2012, he became Australia’s most successful Paralympian ever with 5 gold, 2 silvers and a bronze medal, overhauling track sprinter Tim Sullivan’s previous record of 10 gold in three games. His total of 23 medals surpasses fellow swimmer Kingsley Bugarin’s previous record of 19. In Beijing in 2008, he was named the IPC’s Male Athlete of the Year as well as the APC’s Paralympian of the Year.

Cowdrey also won three World Championships, most recently Barcelona in 2013, with a total haul of 21 World Championships medals, including 16 gold. He also holds 14 current world record times, as well as five Paralympic records.

The 26-year-old South Australian was born with a congenital amputation to his lower left arm. He began swimming at age five and by 11, set his first Australian record in the S9 classification, before claiming the world record at age 13.

“I have been fortunate to have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of, and more than I set out to achieve, and more importantly I have enjoyed every minute of my time,” Cowdrey said.

Cowdrey is now studying media and law at Adelaide University and works at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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