28 January 2019

Bush is a man on a mission

For Matt Bush, sport has always been laden with opportunity and a fundamental part of life.

Brought up competing in just about everything, the 6ft 5in Welshman has done it all – but now para taekwondo is the sport he calls his own.

Claiming a bronze medal at last year’s Pan American Para Taekwondo Championships, Bush is now one of the most feared in the +75kg weight division and a real prospect for Tokyo 2020.

With this week’s World Championships in Turkey the next challenge, the Wales-born athlete remains always a thoroughly determined figure.

He said: “As a kid, I did practically every sport going – whether it be cricket, football or rugby – so I’ve always wanted to be active in what I do.

“I was a doer at school and all I wanted do was to play sport and educate myself through action.

“I was that kid who played out in the garden with a football for hours on end, trying to hit a plant pot the same way every time.

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“I was that kid who played out in the garden with a football for hours on end, trying to hit a plant pot the same way every time.

Matt Bush

“And, although I admit there was a period of time when I veered away from sport in search of more intellectual pursuits, I was still drawn back to it as it gave me a platform to challenge myself physically.”

After unfortunately being ruled out of competing in the javelin at the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016 due to a torn shoulder, it was taekwondo that came calling when he needed a competitive sporting outlet.

“As soon as I discovered these sports where you could kick, punch, knee, elbow, wrestle etc, I suddenly found an avenue for the challenges I was looking for,” said Bush.

“It was DSW (Disability Sport for Wales) who let me know that Para Taekwondo was going to be an event in Tokyo and, given that I had a background in combat sports, I was encouraged to come up and try it.

“I came up to Manchester and they said they wanted to take me on and I suppose the rest is history.”

Within a few days of joining, Bush was flown out to South Korea for his first taste of competitive action when he faced the then world number one.

Describing his thoughts at the time, he said: “With more of a background in martial arts rather than taekwondo, I just went into that match to mess him up and be as physical as I could.

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“As soon as I discovered these sports where you could kick, punch, knee, elbow, wrestle etc, I suddenly found an avenue for the challenges I was looking for."

Matt Bush

“I’m 6ft 5in and a strong individual, so you get the impression that opponents think I’m going to be quite laboured in my approach but I don’t feel like that all.”

“Although other people look at my height, I still see myself as a small guy that got big and so in my mind, I’m just as quick as anyone else.

“I know that a lot of young people with impediments get the odd bit of bullying from time-to-time but my experiences in sport has been nothing but positive.

“I did such an array of sports with abled-bodied individuals and all that did was build my confidence.

“I feel my job is about raising awareness for the sport and showing people around the country who have these so-called disabilities that this is an option.

“With that in mind, gold in the Olympics next year is what I want without question and to showcase myself as one of the world’s best.”

Bush will be in action alongside Amy Truesdale, a world champion in both 2014 and 2017, who will be competing in the +58kg category, while Joseph Lane will also represent Great Britain in the -73kg.

(Picture: GB Taekwondo)

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