Matthew Payne is scorching athletics tracks across Australia with his speed.
The 15-year-old from Newport is one of the standout sprinters in his age group in the nation.
He was a force at the state championships and showed his potential at the nationals to complete a sensational summer in athletics.
Payne puts his success down to his commitment to improve.
“When I want something, I go very hard for it,” he said.
Payne ran to glory in the 100 metres and 200 metres at the Athletics Victoria State Track and Field Championships.
The Williamstown Athletic Club member used the wins as a springboard for his season.
“Knowing I could win the 100 metres and 200 metres at state level against the previous national champion, who was from my state, gave me a lot of confidence,” Payne said.
“That was probably where my best form was in regards to personal bests and times.
“I just went out there and ran my absolute best in good conditions against really good athletes.”
Payne went on to represent Victoria at the Australian Athletics Championships.
The Maribyrnong College student was due to compete in two events – the 100 metres and 200 metres – but a hamstring strain cost him the chance to compete in the 200.
While that was a setback, Payne was able to show off his talents in the 100 metres, returning with a cherished silver medal.
“That would be my main highlight so far,” Payne said. “I went up with somewhat of an expectation of myself to win a medal – whether it was necessarily gold, silver or bronze, I didn’t really mind. I was just over the moon when I crossed the line and found out that I came second.
“It wasn’t much of a margin – I think he [Ashley Wong] beat me by 0.07, so there was nothing in it.”
Payne has tremendous support in the form of coaches Robert Spencer (Williamstown Athletics) and David Battistella (Maribyrnong College).
Spencer praised Payne’s desire to improve and his ruthless mentality on the starting blocks.
“I believe that Matthew takes feedback very well and is able to apply it immediately as he is constantly wanting to improve,” Spencer said. “His determination and fierce competitiveness under pressure is second to none.
“Matthew deserves these successes as he always is holding himself to a higher standard.”
Payne got his start in athletics in 2012 as a member of the Williamstown Little Athletics Centre.
It was not until 2016 that he began to take the sport seriously after winning a medal at the state championships.
His first love is Australian rules and his dream is to play in the AFL.
The Western Bulldogs supporter intends to take the elite pathways in both footy and athletics for the time being.
The Williamstown Juniors midfielder played in the School Sports Victoria football team last year and is trying out for the team again this year.
The question that will inevitably pop up in the coming years for Payne is whether he ultimately decides on athletics or football.
Right now, he can’t answer that.
“I love them both the same at the moment,” Payne said. “I still want to do athletics as it’s complementing my football a lot.
“I’ll do that all the way up until I’m told not to by a coach. Or if footy doesn’t work out I’ll continue athletics.”
Payne is aiming to be part of the Western Jets under-16 squad for next season.
Payne is the May nominee for the Don Deeble Rising Star award.
The award, hosted by the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club and
Star Weekly, recognises young athletes from the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at state and or national levels.
Payne will receive $1000 and other prizes, donated by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club to assist him in achieving his sports goals.