Double World champion swimmer Matt Richards has been nominated for the Athlete Award, for the biggest performance turnaround or breakthrough, at the PLx Awards hosted by UK Sport.
The Welsh international swimmer has seen early success on the global stage, winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay team aged just 17.
This feat was followed up earlier this year when he won the men’s 200 freestyle at the 2023 World Championships, before again being part of a victorious men’s 4x200m freestyle relay outfit. The Worlds also featured a mixed 4x100m freestyle relay bronze for Matt, as well as a new British record in the men’s 100m freestyle. A few months prior to his world title, Richards had never qualified individually for any senior event, however at April’s 2023 British Championships he pipped 2020 Olympic champion, Tom Dean, and 2020 Olympic silver medallist, Duncan Scott, in the 200m freestyle final to becoming British champion.
The Welsh swimmer is already being regarded as one of British Swimming’s brightest stars of the future, set to follow in the footsteps of teammates Adam Peaty and Tom Dean in the coming years following the upcoming Olympic Games.
His transition into individual competition in 2023 paves the way for him to take centre stage at the Olympics next year, for which he will be just 21 years old.
British Swimming describes Matt as an “outstanding role model” for his programme, having showed a great turnaround to win the world championship final against what is regarded as the most stacked field in 200m freestyle history.
Following his nomination, Matt Richards – who trains under coach Ryan Livingstone – said: “It’s an honour. Anytime you get recognised for the work that do in the pool, it’s always a nice bonus – it’s not why you do it, but it’s always very special to feel like you’ve been recognised for that.
“Coming off the back of a tough year in 2022, to be able to have turned it around and done such a good job this season was really special, and now it’s all about building forwards and continuing to improve, and hopefully we can do the country proud next year.”
Richards was recently announced as part of a 35-strong British Swimming squad selected to compete at the European Short-Course Championships in Romania with Richards set to make his European short-course debut this December.
To find out more about the PLx Awards, hosted by UK Sport and powered by The National Lottery, visit www.uksport.gov.uk