At the recent 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games, the 18-year-old showcased his discipline and determination to win seven medals and break  to solidify his status as a rising star in the world of competitive swimming.

Matthew’s medal haul at the Youth Games was nothing short of spectacular. With speed, endurance, and technique, he clinched gold in the 50, 100, 200-metre backstroke and the 200m IM (individual medley). Additionally, he secured silver in the 100m freestyle, and in the mixed freestyle and mixed medley relays.

His success in Trinidad and Tobago has left him with many fond memories, but it is his time in the 200m backstroke final (1:59.21) that stands out for him. 

“The most memorable medal for me was the 200m backstroke,” explained Matthew.

“The sub-two-minute barrier was something I had been trying to break for some time. At the British championships in April, I went two minutes flat! 

“I was frustrated with that, so to break through that barrier at the Youth games was incredible.”


Ahead of most big events, elite athletes like to taper down their training, but that was not quite the case for Matthew who has had a rather hectic 2023 schedule.

“In July I was in Serbia for the European Junior championships,” remembers Matthew.

“The day I got back, I flew out to Majorca for a training camp. That was an intense 11 days and then when I came back, I went to Sheffield for the English nationals – I only competed in the relays so it was not a full schedule.

“A couple of days after that, I flew to Trinidad and Tobago for my third competition of the summer. I guess my training was not ideal but we made it work.

“Having the great coaches and teammates constantly pushing me in the water helped me get better.”

Gold medalist Matthew Ward of Scotland, (L) Silver medalist Kian Craig Keylock of South Africa and (R) Bronze medalist Kevin Zhang of New Zealand pose for a photo with their winning medals after the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final

Photography Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images for Commonwealth Sport

Hailing from the picturesque landscapes of Scotland, Matthew Ward developed a passion for swimming at a young age, starting competitive swimming at the age of eight.

His journey has been marked by countless hours of rigorous training, both in and out of the water. Under the guidance of experienced coaches and with the support of his family, Ward honed his skills, pushing himself to the limits to achieve excellence.

“My parents have just been amazing. They have always prioritised me over themselves,” said Matthew.

“That just makes all the difference and I feel they have always been there for me – more importantly when things have not gone well. 

“It’s easy for them to say well done after a race I've done well in, but it's also tough for them to help pick me up after I've not done so well.

“My coaches have also been supportive and always fight for me in my corner.

“It’s important to have that and if there's any bit of advice that I can give it’s that you cannot have success without failure.

“A lot of people have probably said that but it's just it's easy to give up after something's gone wrong once, but those who are champions, stick at it and they don’t get demoralised if it is not going their way.

“Being determined and disciplined is important for success in anything you do, not only swimming.


Having spent a fair amount of time in America, Matthew finished his schooling at Mount Kelly in Tavistock where he admits that juggling his training and studies was exhausting.  

“That was also really tough because I had A- levels and I was also head boy,” said Matthew.

“There was a lot of commitment and responsibility. I was on a call with a mate recently and we were reflecting on that – I had training before school, then going to school and doing revision lessons. Any free time I had I was trying to revise – then I had training again in the evening. By the end of the day, I was done!”

Away from swimming, Matthew also enjoys cooking – steak is his specialty –and watching Scotland play rugby. He has immense pride in watching his country perform in all sports and feels privileged to represent Scotland himself.

“It is such an honour. I try and put as much pride as I can in every time I'm representing Scotland, I just don't want to let the country down.”

As for the future, Matthew is well aware that the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are looming but his main focus is on getting his times down, and he has one specific record in mind. 

“My eyes are certainly on the Paris Olympics but I am only 18 and it is not the expectation. At the moment there are loads of great backstrokers. 

“I am eyeing up some British age group records – we will see how that goes, and if that goes well then maybe I will get selected for Paris. 

“The record I really want is the 200 IM. Tom Dean has that record and I am currently training with him at the moment – blimey he is quick!”

Gold medalist Matthew Ward of Scotland celebrates victory in the Men's 200m Individual Medley Final

Photography Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images for Commonwealth Sport

There is no doubt that Matthew’s achievements at the Commonwealth Youth Games have catapulted him into the spotlight, earning him recognition not only in Scotland but also on the international stage. His dedication, hard work, and sportsmanship will inspire a new generation of swimmers, reinforcing the legacy of Scottish swimming.