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St Virgil's College Sport

Matt Bevilacqua: 2017/18 Nutri-Grain Ironman Series Champion

Bevilacqua

Matt Bevilacqua is an Old Virgilian, the class of 2008. On Sunday February 25, he added an even greater feat to his list of accolades: Matt became the 2017/18 Nutri-Grain Ironman Series Champion. Matt finished 2nd in the final race of the series at North Cronulla Beach, edging out training partner Ali Day, to clinch his maiden Nutri-Grain Ironman Series title at the age of 25.

Matt joined the Clifton Beach Surf Life Saving Club as a nipper in his early years and ever since, the water has been life for Matt. At 16, Bevilacqua became the youngest (at the time) to win the Tasmanian Open Ironman Series. Matt then moved to the Gold Coast to pursue his dream of becoming a professional Surf Life Saver. This win was the culmination of years and years of training, commitment and determination.

After Matt’s incredible win, we spoke to him about the race, his drive for success and life at St Virgil’s College.

At what point did you realise you had actually won the Nutri-Grain Ironman series? Can you capture that feeling?

I didn’t even know when I crossed the line that I had won, Ali was just one place behind me – it was just disbelief, when the TV crews told me I honestly couldn’t even wrap my head around it mate. That was the whole idea leading into the race, was to not get ahead of myself – just to deal with that little bit of water in front of me. When it all hit me, there wasn’t even a flicker of belief there at all that I’d actually won.

Do you think that going into the race not knowing you could possibly win the series helped your performance? For example, if you had of known before hand you may have folded to the pressure.

Yeah absolutely I mean I wanted to have a general idea of what I had to do that day by beating Ali, but not too much because you could get ahead of yourself and start worrying about numbers too much and you know when I was side-by-side with him in that last leg, that wasn’t in my head. It was about doing the best I can even in that crazy situation and not overthinking it.

So it’s your fifth season now on the Ironman circuit, what has kept the fire burning and what has driven you to win?

Look I definitely haven’t been in a title race yet, so the real drive has been to continually improve and get that little bit better every race, so I can see where my career takes me in say, 10 years’ time. To have an Iron-Man series in my sights wasn’t really the goal for 5 years, it was just to generally improve with little goals that eventually lead to bigger results. Being constantly focused on improving all the time has definitely kept my motivation levels high.

A lot of boys here at SVC will take a lot out of that, with lots of students at the college striving towards that higher level in all areas of life whether that be sport, the arts or academic achievement.

Yes exactly, and whether you’re in Grade 3 or Grade 10 you can’t set your goals too high to begin with, you need to set 1000 little goals to eventually achieve that big goal of say winning a world title. Looking too far ahead can be really tough.

So now that you’ve won the Nutri-Grain Ironman Series which is a huge achievement in your sport, where does your focus shift to from here? Next year’s title?

Well there are three main Ironman titles, The Coolangatta Gold, The Australian Ironman Title and then the Nutri-Grain Ironman Series. I definitely want to tick the Coolangatta Title off as well as the National Championship. The Australian Ironman Title is on in Perth at the end of April, so my focus definitely shifts to that as its coming up soon, so I’ll set my sights on that and then it’s onto the next season which includes ‘The Gold’ as well as a World Ironman Championship in Adelaide. So there are lots of goals to get through still and I’ve always had an attitude of not being complacent, so I’ll have a good break after Perth and then get back into training because I don’t really want to stop.

Now moving into the SVC component of our chat, I wanted to know are there any teachers or staff members that had a significant impact upon you and helped shape the man you are now? Did they contribute to where you are now?

Absolutely, I could easily think of multiple teachers off the top of my head. In Grade 6 at the Junior School I was taught by Mr Matt Kean who was influential on me, as well as Mr Chris Thomson in Maths. The impact wasn’t always sports related for me either, a lot of it was life-related and about growing as a person, which you can put back into whatever sport you are in as well. Those life skills are often more valuable then skills in the sport themselves, so I made sure to learn a lot from those types of people. The PE department like Mr James Dalton and Mr Justin Mahoney were also very supportive of what I was doing in Sport. Every time I go back to St Virgil’s I really connect well with all the teachers I met when I was at the school. I say to everyone up here how much I love my school, with a lot of the Queenslanders up here its not always the case. I loved every minute at school and I think that the lessons I learnt at St Virgil’s have been pivotal in what I’ve been able to achieve today.

We’ve just started the school year down here in Tasmania, so what would be your best tip for any new Grade 7 settling into life at St Virgil’s?

I remember Grade 7 vividly, I was pretty lost as I had a few different friendship groups from the junior school and from other schools – so I suppose the best advice I could give would be to come in with an open mind and try to find who you are, but don’t come set in your ways. Treat St Virgil’s like an open book and really try to make the most of your four years at the college, as well as taking up everything the school has to offer, because the time really does fly and it has so much to offer.

Lastly, you’ve given a tip to the Grade 7’s, but do you have any advice for a boy at St Virgil’s who is wishing to get the best of themselves in their chosen path? Whether that be in Surf Life-Saving, Art, Drama or some other goal?

The advice I give myself every day is that it doesn’t matter where you are in life, always be improving yourself in little steps. A lot of the guys on the tour that develop their professional career focus on life-related goals, simple things like being organised and punctual really help you to progress in the career you are pursuing. That’s something you can really learn at St Virgil’s is coming out of the school disciplined, focused and aware of yourself which are little things that you can gain from the school that develop you as a person.

 

We thank Matt for his time and wish him all the best at the national titles in April!