By Joanna Delalande

Humble winner

Matthew Glaetzer keeps hopes of winning high for Rio, but says he can’t take credit for his success

Matthew Glaetzer competes
LONDON - MARCH 4, 2016: Matthew Glaetzer competes in the qualifying round of The Mens Sprint at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Matthew Glaetzer may have missed out on the gold medal in the men's sprint final of the track cycling world championships in March, but he remains confident gold is within his grasp at this year's upcoming Rio Olympics.

The 23-year-old Adelaide-born cyclist was beaten by Great Britain's Jason Kenny in London and had to settle for silver.

But if anything the defeat only served to heighten his motivation for the Olympic games.

"Racing against Jason was almost a practice for Rio, really," Matthew said.

"It will be a bit of a revenge sort of situation if I do race him again.

"It's good to have that sort of rivalry and history of racing each other in the past, knowing there's a good possibility we're going to face each other again in the near future."

He admitted the silver was definitely not as nice as gold.

"[But] that's added motivation to do everything I can in training and back home in Adelaide," he said.

"It just spurs me on to get one better."

American football player Vince Lombardi once said, "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while... you don't do things right once in a while... you do them right all the time. Winning is habit."

If that is true, Matthew's ambition might be attributable to his immense success in the past: he won a full-time scholarship at the national program training in 2010, won gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and was compared to Scottish track cycling icon Chris Hoy.

"It's a huge honour," Glaetzer said of the comparison.

"He's a legend in our sport, the best ever. To be in the same sentence as him, it's exciting."

So it is no wonder Matthew is hungry for victory this August. But he remains astonishingly humble as he says he takes credit for none of his achievements.

"I've been a Christian all my life and [God] is the one who enables me to do this. I don't take any credit for what I can do physically because it's been given to me as a gift."

Matthew says he became a Christian at a very young age, but after having drifted from God as a teenager because of injuries, he rededicated his life to the Lord at a camp run by his local church.

He was singing songs of praise to Jesus when he encountered God's peace. "I had my eyes opened again to who He was and how much He loved me," he says.

It was that peace that Matthew sought at the 2010 Junior World Titles when the pressure became too much for him.

"I was so caught up with the race that I put too much pressure on myself, and I became obsessed with winning," Matthew describes.

Matthew Glaetzer
CAMBRIDGE, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 6, 2015: Matthew Glaetzer celebrates his win in the mens sprint final of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup. (Photo Phil Walter/Getty Images)

"You wouldn't have recognized me because my personality was so different. I couldn't make decisions."

In this challenging time Matthew turned to God for peace and healing.

"I had an intense prayer session, calling out to God because I couldn't do it myself," he remembers.

"And in the following two days I became a two-time junior world champion. I had to wholeheartedly rely on God's strength to pull me through."

Matthew says he learned to be delivered from his desire to win all the time. "Jesus to me is the reason I can have peace," he says. "He has taken the burden of all my sin and through Him I can have eternal life in Heaven.

"It makes a huge difference in how you live because you know you've won the victory already."

Matthew focuses on the pleasure he finds in competing rather than getting caught up in the victory, and says it is a fantastic opportunity to show there is something greater.

"People value their life based on what they do and how successful they are," he says.

"That was the case in my cycling team and it can have really harmful effects because if you don't perform well you feel rubbish about yourself.

"God loves you for who you are, not what you do or where you come from."

Matthew keeps that in mind on the track. It's what helps him keep things in perspective, and be able to lose with a smile and a light heart knowing that although winning is admittedly pretty good, it is no match for the peace and purpose one has in living for Jesus, and so many other things in this world.

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