OVERCOMING tremendous adversity, Wagga athlete Matt Shannon has accomplished what many would percieve as nearly impossible.
Born without the ability to hear, the 38-year-old father of two is navigating his way through the sporting world with a keen instinct, determination and impeccable skill.
Without uttering a word, Shannon told his story to The
Daily Advertiser via email after his athleticism and love of sports propelled him to claim three medals at the Australian Deaf Games in Geelong last weekend.
“I have always been athletic ... I play indoor volleyball in men’s and mixed and touch football in over 35s in the Wagga
competition,” he wrote. “It’s hard to communicate with
the other players but I can easily play a position.
“I mean I talk to someone on sms, email, write communcation papers or write messages on the mobile phone and find people read them.”
Communicating through writing yesterday, Shannon’s pride in his achievements was obvious and inspirational.
Shannon said he found his home among other hearing-impaired athletes at the nationwide tournament as they
communicated freely with Auslan, the Australian sign language, with the other competitors he now calls friends.
“(I won) silver in mixed beach volleyball for combined states, a bronze in men’s touch football for ACT, a silver in rugby sevens for Fiji,” he wrote.
“They asked for my help to play with them, they had a
short team without four or five players (injured).
Communicating in the Shannon household is a mixed bag of languages, as wife Kathy is also deaf while their two
daughters Chloe, 11, and Matilda, three, have full hearing capabilities.
Chloe, who started her first day back at Tolland Primary School yesterday, and little sister Matilda, speak to their parents with proficient Auslan.
The growing family moved to Wagga four years ago from Canberra, and Shannon now works as a casual cleaner around the city.
After his phenomenal experience at these Australian Deaf Games, Shannon said he is looking forward to competing at next year’s event in Adelaide. The Australian Deaf Games have been held since 1964 and are the highlight event for deaf athletes in Australia.