Paralympic Champion Matt Wylie Retires After Being Classed Up

Paralympic Champion Matt Wylie will retire from swimming after being classed up from S9 to S10, British Swimming announced Wednesday.

Wylie, only 21, was the S9 50 free gold medalist in Rio in 2016. He set his first British record in 2012, at the age of 15, and current holds three.

“The decision to retire has been something I have thought long and hard about over the last few weeks,” Wylie said, per British Swimming’s release. “The process of going through a change in classification has drained me of my passion for the sport that I held so close to me.

In late 2017, World Para Swimming announced that it would implement a new classification process, which took effect January 1, 2018 – all athletes are required to undergo a new classification test in 2018 (with the exception of a few special cases, which can be found here). This new process is meant to combat intentional misrepresentation (IM), which occurs when an athlete intentionally makes their impairment seem more severe in order to be put into a lower disability class. 

Under the new system so far, an inordinate number of athletes, some more high-profile than others, have been reclassified – both up and down. You can read more about the chaos here.

In his new classification, Wylie said that he would be unlikely to make the top 8 at international events, let alone the podium. His sentiment echoes that of fellow Brit Ollie Hynd, who recently expressed that he was “heartbroken and confused” about getting reclassed from S8 to S9. 

“Matt has made an enormous contribution to para-swimming. He is one of the most professional and dedicated athletes I’ve ever had the privilege of working with,” said Chris Furber, national performance director for British Para-Swimming. “Classification is a key part of all para-sport, and whilst we respect and support Matt’s decision he will certainly be missed by the athletes, coaches and staff on the team.

Wylie will now pursue a law degree, but hopes to mentor young swimmers in the sport.

“British Para Swimming and UK Sport have provided me with much needed support and guidance, helping me achieve my dream of representing my country at a Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. Representing my country at such a prestigious event will be a memory I keep close to my heart forever,” he said. “For me achieving this goal has been the greatest achievement in my life to date.”

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Mark

Ollie Hynds gets a top barrister to win an appeal against his Classification due to it being flawed and this swimmer retires with dignity.
Another classification balls up and let’s hope the IPC stand there ground against Ollie Hynds

Lpman

Let me start by saying I am a big fan of All paralympians. With that said, the fact that this gentleman feels the need to call it quits due to intentional misrepresentation seems to put a damper on everything paralympians believe and compete for.

Roll tide

Quitting because you can’t make top 8 at international events??? I’m glad all swimmers don’t share this sentiment.

LMA

Another Male CP athlete lost from the sport. Sad. He is absolutely right unfortunately, it is completely pointless so all up probably a very wise decision. Whilst IM is still rampant why would you waste your time? I hope that British Swimming offered the same level of support to him (and the other two who found themselves classed up) as they provided for Hynd. I wonder if they found the classification processes and procedures to be flawed for Tai & Kearney – or does it just work one way?

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swims distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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