PTO athlete of the month Kat Matthews

Kat Matthews voted first winner of new ‘PTO Athlete of the Month’

Kat Matthews has been voted the first PTO Athlete of the Month in a new initiative introduced by the Professional Triathletes Organisation (PTO) to celebrate the performances of its members across the year.

The monthly accolade will recognise a female or male PTO athlete based on: outstanding race performances, significant movement up the PTO World Rankings and/or challenges overcome.

A six-athlete shortlist was pulled together – based on race action during April 2023 – and then voted on by a panel of Triathlon media as well as fans of the sport.

The shortlist for April 2023 included (in alphabetical order): Leo Bergere, Tamara Jewett, Matthew Marquardt, Kat Matthews, Rudy Von Berg and Amelia Watkinson.

But it was Britain’s Kat Matthews who topped the voting to win the inaugural award from Canada’s Tamara Jewett and then France’s Matthew Marquardt.

In the first race following her horrific crash at the end of last year, Kat was third in a strong field at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside before returning to Texas, the scene of her accident, to win Ironman Texas with new run and overall personal records. Her results propelling her from #14 to #8 in the PTO World Rankings and her bravery and courage to get back in the saddle winning her respect and admiration from across the sport.

Commenting on her win, Kat said: “I feel very privileged to win the first PTO Athlete of the Month award. It’s a clever initiative because I understand the season can be very long so to recognize a success every month is a really good idea for us athletes.”

Speaking about her return and some of the performances over the past few weeks and how it made her feel looking ahead, Kat said: “Yeah, I’m really surprised. I think I’ve been talking to some of my peers in the army, just this afternoon, and I still can’t really get over it. I’m sort of allowing myself to really dwell on the satisfaction of how well it’s gone, because it is so, like surprising. The challenges that I was presented with at the end of September [2022] and then watching Kona a week later I can’t really describe still and it’s sort of too much to really put into words. I think the biggest part was this weird, constant belief from other people, which gave me self-belief that it would be totally fine and I’d be back to myself in no time. But on paper, and from a physiotherapist point of view, it doesn’t make any rational sense that I’ve been able to overcome those injuries [including small fractures in the skull, two vertebrae and sternum] and heal well enough to do some training and to perform even to an expected level of professional racing. Let alone what I was able to show at Oceanside and Texas.”

Looking ahead to the season, the Kona World Championships and the top of the PTO World Rankings, Kat commented: “So it gives me a lot of confidence but I also know that I I’ve overachieved and I need to sit back and not get carried away. I think by the time September, October comes, yeah, I think I’ll be in a good place. It is exciting that I haven’t lost my chance, it’s still there. It’s just in a different form and I can still be the best in the world and that’s what I genuinely believe.”

On racing the World Triathlon Long Distance Triathlon World Championships [on Sunday 7 May in Ibiza as part of the World Triathlon Multisport World Championships] rather than the PTO European Open, she said it was the lure of representing Team GB that won her over, in a race that she’s wanted to do for the last four years.

Talking on the recent Collin Chartier doping suspension, Kat said: “We’ve seen so many professionals be outspoken about their views and I’ve read nearly every one, I think, and really valued everyone’s opinions. And the consensus is constantly drawn back to…we need more out-of-competition testing and we need all of the players to play fairly, as in all of our governing entities to come together.

“It’s a really difficult position for the sport and for us as professionals to try and contemplate and for me at the moment it’s just coming back to trust and I’ve just got to trust the system and trust everyone in the sport. I think also the momentum of us talking about it is a positive. We need to keep talking about it because it needs to be something we address rather than sweep under the carpet.”

And she finished up by talking about the emergence of the PTO Tour over the last year: “It’s massive…what the PTO has done for the sport and I, hand on heart, could never be more happy that I found this time in the sport. And not just financially, as I think that’s the obvious one. It’s more about the community that they’ve brought together, the Collins Cup, these PTO Opens, the sport has never felt more connected. It’s one of the main reasons for going to Ibiza, alongside representing GB, is to be with everyone, to socialize. [Doing] That as a professional field never happened in my opinion before and now we come together in these events that the PTO holds and we connect, we learn and we challenge each other.”

The media panel for PTO Athlete of the Month includes: Global Triathlon Network (GTN), Triathlete, Triathlon Magazine .Each of the four outlets gave their 1, 2, 3 based on the shortlist and fans voted during Thursday 27 April, 2023, across the PTO’s social channels. Three points are awarded for being voted #1, 2 pts for #2 and 1 pt for #3. The points are then added up to give the winner. For April, Kat received 11 points, Tamara 7 and Matthew 5.

To find out more on Kat’s amazing return to racing, watch the PTO documentary Crushed: The Kat Matthews Story.

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