Matthew Glaetzer

Olympic Athlete. Track Cyclist. Go-Getter.

Earlier this month, Matthew Glaetzer was one of 15 athletes to be named on Australia’s track cycling team for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

In October, Australia’s best male track sprinter was diagnosed with thyroid cancer after feeling a “twinge” in his neck during a gym session. The 27-year-old, with two world championship titles and three Commonwealth Games gold medals to his name, said the diagnosis “rocked him.”

“When you hear the ‘C’ word – you always think it won’t happen to you, but suddenly you have to deal with it yourself,” he tells Guardian Australia.

From a young age, Glaetzer has dreamed of Olympic glory. As a teenager, he became the poster boy for Cycling Australia after winning world championships. Once at London 2012 and twice at Rio 2016, Glaetzer received the fourth place bronze medal.

“I was feeling confident I could get the job done in Tokyo,” he says. “I believed I could finally clinch a medal at the Olympics.”

Thankfully, the South Australian rider caught his cancer early, and after a short recovery period, returned to training at Cycling Australia’s high-performance center. Immediately after back-to-back races including the UCI Track World Cups in New Zealand and Brisbane in December, Glaetzer had another round of treatment, before preparing for Tokyo.

“I do not want this stopping me from doing what I love,” he says. “This has been a setback, but as athletes we are always working with an injury here or there. I am just treating this like a little injury. If all goes well, it won’t hold me back.”

Glaetzer is a devout Christian who has used his faith as a means to get him through this tough time. While initially, the Australian athlete kept the news quiet, he has now gone public in hopes to encourage others to take their medical concerns seriously.

Medal or no medal, and Olympics or no Olympics, Glaetzer’s perspective as a cancer survivor has improved his outlook on life. “I just want to live life and have a positive impact on those around me,” he says.