Matt Abood gave an inspiring speech at his former school, Pottsville Beach Public yesterday.
Matt Abood gave an inspiring speech at his former school, Pottsville Beach Public yesterday. Blainey Woodham

Abood makes splash at school

MATTHEW Abood returned to Pottsville Beach Public School a world champion yesterday, ready to inspire kids sitting where he had just 15 years earlier.

The 25-year-old was the perfect speaker to launch the school's You Can Do It learning program.

His journey to gold as part of the Australian 4x100m freestyle relay team at the Shanghai World Swimming Championships last month showed a strength of character the teachers hope to instil in the young students.

In coming weeks the children will learn about words such as resilience, perseverance, confidence, organisation, team work and success, which are all things Abood needed to excel in the tough world of competitive swimming.

With mum Jill, who is a teacher at the school, plus dad Tony and brother Andrew in the audience, Abood told about his low point of not making the Australian swimming team last year, and revealed a back injury had almost forced him to pull out of the Shanghai event.

He said his failure at the 2010 Australian titles had made him “very sad”, but also hungrier to get back there.

“I used my experience and emotions from not making the swim team to drive me forward to be on the team again,” Abood said.

It was a bulging disk in Abood's back that threatened to derail his shot at the world championships.

“In April I couldn't walk,” he told the students, "but I just hung in there and did all the right things.

“I was in a position to travel to Singapore (for a pre-event training camp).

"I got some rest in and was just better enough to swim in Shanghai.”

“It was the worst preparation I have had for a swim meeting ... but I had confidence in myself that I could do it, and I did do it.”

The result of all this hard work was a gold medal, which Abood pulled from a wooden case at the end of his talk.

He held it out for the students to see, and their collective reaction was “Wow!”

Abood told the students that success is relative, and said the achievement didn't have to be huge, to be judged a success – it could be as simple as a good training session each morning.

“If I can have a little bit of success each day, hopefully I can make sure I get a few more of these in my back pocket,” he said, pointing to the medal.



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