Athlete Profile: Polly Maton

Two images of Polly competing in long jump and an image of her with a Union Jack flag


Polly Maton 

Course and Year of Study

History and Politics (2nd Year)


Lady Margaret Hall


Athletics (Long Jump and 100m) 


Oxford University Athletics Club / Team Devizes Moonrakers Athletics Club 

Highest Competition Level

Senior International Representation (Paralympics GB; GB Athletics) 

Best Achievement

Silver at the 2017 London World Championship in the Women's T47 Long Jump or competing for Paralympics GB in Rio 2016 

Short Term Aspirations

To be selected for Tokyo 2021 (injury and covid-19 pending!) 

Long Term Aspiration

To be a Paralympic medallist

How did you get into the sport? 

Getting into athletics started completely by chance. Every year the Lions Club gave out free trial sessions of different sports to primary school kids in my local area. Aged 8 I picked trampolining as my first choice and was convinced by my friends to put down athletics as a back-up. As fate would have it, I was given athletics. It was here I met Colin, still my coach, who saw something in me. At the end of the two days he approached me specifically to join my local club where he helped out and I agreed. I continued for a few years alongside other school sports, but running quickly became my favourite activity. Colin asked me to come up and train with his older athletes in Bath, about 50 minutes from my home. Throughout this period the notion of para-sport had never crossed my mind, as - if I am perfectly honest - I did not really identify myself as disabled. In 2011 this all changed. While at Bath a talent scout at England Athletics approached me after excitedly noticing my floppy sleeve. He asked me to attend the South West Junior Para Championships the next day. I skipped school and I distinctly remember my Mum buying me my first pair of spikes to wear for the occasion. I have not really looked backed since.  

How has the Blues Performance Scheme helped you? 

The Blues scheme has been crucial in supporting me as a student-athlete over the last two years, especially as I am based quite a distance from my EIS base at Bath and the National Performance Institute at Loughborough. It has provided me with fantastic strength and conditioning coaching, psychology sessions and nutrition advice. I honestly do not know what I would do without it!  

What is your advice on balancing sport and academia? 

I have always been a strong believer that the two genuinely aid each other. Exercise is a great way to take a break from studying and is likely to stimulate your brain for when you return. The dual focus also means that with inevitable failure which comes in both pursuits at times, you can always pick yourself up with the other. Equally though, I know from personal experience that it can get overwhelming at times, especially at pressure points (like selection dates or exams). Generally, I think knowing your priorities is key, as well as planning. I am someone who wants to give 100% to everything at all times, but that is not possible: there are only so many hours in a day. I have experienced the pitfalls of both injury and illness which come from attempting to put too much on your plate. So decide what needs your most focus at specific times, and divide hours accordingly (and leave space for down time, I know rare for any student-athlete).  

How have you managed training during lockdown?

I started out lockdown injured, and my overarching goal for the year, to compete at the Paralympics, gone. I am not going to lie, I think I spent most of my time in the first month just lying on my bed watching Netflix! Rehab though has now provided me with a new sense of purpose. If I had any advice, it would be to set very small, easily achievable and fun goals for yourself in terms of exercise. Achieving them will keep you motivated, and then allow you to keep progressing.

Any advice for Oxford Uni athletes during lockdown?

I would also say that however hard it is, try not to compare your training to what you were doing previously. We are all living in extraordinary times, and health and happiness should be the number one priority. I think exercise is a key way to provide this, but beating yourself up for not keeping to a usual training programme (or diet plan!) is not fair on yourself and does not take into account a wider, more important picture.