Supporters gather for Matt Hauser at Games
TO THE rest of the world, Matt Hauser is a star Australian athlete competing at the Commonwealth Games but to Riley Justins, he's his best mate.
Matt, a Hervey Bay born-and-bred local triathlete, competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast where he snagged fourth place, just two seconds behind third-place winner, Scotland's Marc Austin.
Watching on was one of his best mates, Riley, who used to train with the sports star and met him in school.
"We'd both train and he'd message me in the morning and ask if I was going to go riding," he said.
"He was always training hard but always had a good sense of humour and made training fun.
"I actually took time off work to come and watching him compete.
"I remember feeling goosebumps when I found out he'd made it to the Commonwealth Games.
Riley was among dozens of fans who gathered at the Beach House on Thursday to watch Matt compete in the triathlon.
While chatting to the Chronicle, many supporters shared how they knew Matt and had their own stories of how they'd interacted with the young athlete or his family.
Family, friends and supporters of the 20-year-old came together and shared a beer and some lunch for the event and eyes were glued to the screen for the duration of the race.
Floating between the top six positions, his supporters cheered each time he featured on screen.
It was a moment his former teacher at Xavier Catholic College, Lisa Hopgood, was proud to be a part of.
While watching her former student compete, she reminisced about the athlete, describing him as an "energetic" and "dedicated" young man.
"We had a joke because we had a double (class) on a Thursday morning and he used to be really hyper sometimes," she said.
"He was quite energetic that morning and I said to him, 'You should have ridden this morning', and he said, 'I did ride!'
"I thought it must be from coffee and it turns out he had a coffee that morning and that's where his energy was coming from," she said.
Not only was Matt a success in sport, Ms Hopgood said he was a success in the classroom.
"Because he was so dedicated to his sport and put so much of his time into it, he always had to be efficient and organised," she said.
"Not only has he succeeded in sport, he's succeeded in school and was an excellent student and ended up going to uni while he trained.
"I'm really proud of the way he's conducted himself (in the Commonwealth Games)," she added.
Matt is likely to compete in Saturday's mixed relay, 12 months after the WTS debut which started his path to the Gold Coast Games.
You can follow Matt Hauser's journey through the 2018 Commonwealth Games at frasercoastchronicle.com.au.