Heath Matthews, the man credited by Vijender Singh for making his “badly-bruised” body battle-ready for the historic bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, is set to join him again ahead of the London Games.
South African physiotherapist Matthews who, Vijender said, was critical in helping him recover from draining bouts in Beijing before he became the first Indian boxer to get an Olympic medal, will join him on Monday.
“He (Matthews) was of great help in the Beijing Olympics and took care of a lot of my niggles before the semi-finals. The experience was so good that I am sure I will benefit from his presence again,” Vijender told PTI.
“He will be joining me in Patiala on Monday. His appointment has been made possible by the Sports Authority of India, the Sports Ministry and the Indian Boxing Federation,” he added.
Matthews is currently the Head Sports Physiotherapist at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai and has worked with Indian athletes such as tennis ace Sania Mirza and badminton star Saina Nehwal.
“We are trying to work out a compromise schedule of four to six weeks. The Sports Ministry wants me for nine weeks but obviously, I have my commitments with regards to the hospital I am employed in Mumbai and my family as well,” the much-acclaimed physio told PTI.
“I am pretty excited about being there because Beijing was such a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to add something extra to the preparations for London,” he said.
“After Beijing, I set up a Sports Medicine Centre in Mumbai and I am excited about bringing the innovations made there,” he added.
Vijender said he is hopeful of Matthews accompanying the team to their training trip to Ireland starting June 15.
“I think he will accompany us to the training trip to Ireland,” he said.
The Indian Boxing Federation said Heath is being brought in specifically at Vijender’s request.
“Vijender feels he benefitted from Heath’s presence in Beijing so he has requested that he be made available before the London Games. So Heath will be there with him in build-up time and help him in whatever way he wants,” an IBF official said.
“The modalities are being worked out but the regular support staff of the Indian team will remain the same.
Matthews is an addition at Vijender’s request for him specifically,” he added.