Gabe Mastromatteo Bounces Back From Bad COVID Bout to Win U Sports Athlete of the Year

Canadian Olympian Gabe Mastromatteo was honored on Wednesday as this year’s top male U Sports athlete after bouncing back from COVID-19 to claim national titles in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100 breast last season.

Mastromatteo, who helped Canada’s 400 medley relay reach the Olympic final two years ago in Tokyo, told the Canadian Press that he lost three months of training in early 2022 and didn’t feel like himself until September. As a result, he missed out on last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

At February’s U Sports Championships, the University of Toronto standout clocked U Sports records in both the 50 breast (27.53) and 100 breast (1:01.38). In the 50, Mastromatteo was less than a tenth of a second shy of the Canadian national record set by Scott Dickens (27.45) back in 2009. He also placed second in both the 200 breast and 400 medley relay. A month later, the 21-year-old Ontario native earned runner-up finishes in the 50 breast (27.87) and 100 breast (1:00.96) at Canadian Trials

“It’s very nice to be seen for the hard work even in the hard times,” Mastromatteo said. “I feel like it’s pretty easy to get rewarded when everything’s going well, but it’s nice to see that there’s light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”

Mastromatteo is the first University of Toronto athlete to take home the male athlete of the year honor. The Varsity Blues’ breaststroker is the first swimmer to win the award since University of Manitoba’s Kelsey Wog in 2020 and the first male swimmer since University of British Columbia’s Brian Johns in 2002.

“Gabe is a world class swimmer and showed that with his two meet records at the national championships this season,” University of Toronto coach Byron Macdonald said. “But there are potholes in any adventure and Gabe hit a huge one last year with a heavy COVID hit that kept him out of serious training for several months. With that comes doubt and lots of challenges, so it’s a strong support staff and personal drive that has gotten Gabe back to his previous form.”

Along with a trophy, Mastromatteo also received a $5,000 scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies. McMaster women’s basketball player Sarah Gates was awarded the U Sports’ top female honor. Kylie Masse is among the previous winners on the women’s side.

Mastromatteo just wrapped up his second season of U Sports eligibility and has three years left. He studies commerce at Toronto.

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3 months ago

Hope to see him soon under that minute barrier from a flat start!!

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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