Fighting back to live his dreams
HE IS determined, ambitious and more than a touch on the wild side; Matt Speakman is one of Australia’s fighters, never willing to give up.
The Hervey Bay resident has high hopes for this year and next; winning the 1600cc class Qld Rally Championship and qualifying for the 2011 Australian Rally Championship.
His journey to this point started in 1993 when the then-nightclub manager and part-time model completed moto champ Wayne Gardner’s master class of motorcycle racing in NSW.
The course landed Matt a deal allowing him to compete in the Australian 600 Super Sport Championship that same year.
He was ready to kick-start his career.
The deal was signed and hopes were high; Matt was about to take on the motoring world.
But on his way home to spread the news it all came crashing down. Matt was knocked off his motorbike by a drunk driver, flipping his life into a mess.
The former scuba diver and triathlete spent a physically and emotionally painful six months in an isolated NSW hospital on the brink of being closed down.
He described the ordeal as absolutely horrendous: “I’ve often said being in a wheelchair is nothing compared to being in that hospital.”
When he returned to his Sydney home Matt was under intense pressure to start rehabilitation and map out a new career, so he took off to Vanuatu where he was introduced to sailing, one of many sports that reignited his adventurous spirit.
In the years that followed Matt became re-certified for scuba diving, joined Sailors with disAbilities, taking part in the 1994 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, and competed in state and nationwide rally car championships.
He also became a member of the Australian Paralympics Alpine ski team, competing in Canada.
But his skiing came to an end when Matt’s father, followed by his brother, died and rally racing was put on hold due to a lack of resources.
Those events led Matt to move to Hervey Bay where he is an announcer for Fraser Coast Community Radio and also the MC for the wheelchair convoy world record attempt.
It also led to him racing again.
The only problem now is finances are still dry and Matt’s dreams of winning the 2010 Qld Rally Championship are up in the air.