Right attitude key to success, says Ironman champ

Published on 01 Sep 2020

Matt and Philip sat at a table talking

Health teams from APM WorkCare and Konekt have been given some incredible insights into the life of an Australian champion athlete.

Ironman champion and Australia’s Invictus Games co-captain, Matt Brumby, joined the latest WorkCare Lockdown Speaker Series to share his experience of adapting to a life-changing injury.

Matt told the health teams, made up of allied health professionals, injury management specialists and rehabilitation consultants how he joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1994 at the age of 16.

In 2000, while undertaking selection to be a Navy clearance diver he collapsed on the beach.

Soon after, Matt was diagnosed with a syrinx, a fluid-filled cavity in his spinal cord that had paralysed him from just below the chest down.

Matt, from Devonport in Tasmania, detailed how his diagnosis opened up new opportunities.

He worked on a farm, learned to operate excavators and tractors and even trained to be a pilot.

Within a few years he competed in his first triathlon and won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship Triathlon in 2016 on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.

That same year he narrowly missed out on selection for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, before switching to long distance triathlons.

Matt and his helper dog Willow

Following a successful Sydney Invictus Games 2018 as co-captain, Matt qualified for the 2019 Ironman World Championships, despite there being only four wheelchair handcycle spots available worldwide.

The gruelling format for the Ironman race is a 3.8km swim, 180km handcycle through the city of Kona and out into the lava fields, returning to the city centre on a racing wheelchair for 42.2km.

Matt joined APM WorkCare General Manager Philip Paysden at APM’s Adelaide headquarters for the online talk to dozens of APM and Konekt team members.

“It was another great opportunity to learn from an amazing athlete about overcoming challenges, staying energised, and positively impacting our clients,” Philip said.

Philip said the some pf the top lessons from Matt’s talk included:

  1. The importance of early intervention to help shape a positive outlook
  2. With the right attitude and equipment, anyone can do anything
  3. The Health Benefits of Good Work – work and a sense of purpose is equivocal with good health
  4. The impact of psychosocial factors on our health and wellbeing – and the importance of social connection
  5. Injury and a sense of injustice tend to go hand in hand all too often. Anger can be a curse that only hurts us more the longer we hold onto it.

“Nothing could distract us from Matt’s amazing story – except maybe Matt’s gorgeous assistance dog, Willow!” Philip added.

“Thanks Matt for generously sharing your time and your story, and to our great teams for taking the time out to listen and your willingness to always strive for more.”