Matthew Denny is one of the finest junior throwers in Australian history. He dominates the record books and national title lists.
He was also impressive internationally, winning the IAAF World Youth Championships discus title in 2013, followed by fourth the year after at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships. He also won a silver medal at the Universiade in 2015.
In April 2016, he won the national discus title with a throw of 60.47m and the hammer title with 68.44m. He became just the second athlete in the near 100 years history of the event to win the double and the first since Keith Pardon in 1953 – 63 years earlier. During the 2016 summer, his discus personal best had reached 63.02m, but this was still below the Olympic qualifying standard of 65.00m. In April, he travelled to California in pursuit of the qualifier and in three consecutive competitions threw 64 metres, highlighted by a best of 64.73m. He returned to his home in Queensland for more training. Determined to qualify, he travelled back to California one month later and in his first competition, nailed the standard with a personal best of 65.37m, moving him to fifth on the Australian all-time list. In Rio, he threw 61.16m in the qualifying round, placing 19th overall.
In April 2017, while still only 20, he won his third consecutive Australian hammer title and his fifth podium finish. His distance of 73.37m was a three metre PB and the longest winning distance in 11 years. In his preferred event, the discus, he was narrowly defeated by Julian Wruck.
In 2017 he made some changes, resulting in becoming faster and more athletic. He also worked on managing any conditions and circumstances that can arise, both in training or competition. He responded by throwing his second and third best hammer distances, noting: “technically it was a PB at the weight I’m at as last time I threw my PB I was at 130kg and now I’m 118kg.”
At the Australian Championships and Commonwealth Games trials in February 2018, with just 14 hours separating the hammer and discus events, he required just one valid hammer throw to claim the title and automatic Games nomination. In the discus, he struck early in the competition with a throw of 64.03m, his best distance outside of the wind-friendly environment of California, USA. He held off a late charge by Benn Harradine to win the event and confirm his discus nomination. He becomes the second Australian athlete, and first in 68 years, to compete in both events at the Commonwealth Games, following Keith Pardon who completed the same double at the 1938 and 1950 Empire Games.
At the Games Matt threw brilliantly in the hammer to bag the silver medal with a new personal best of 74.88m. In the discus he was just outside the medals placing fourth with 62.53m.
Matthew lives and trains on a home-made discus circle on his family’s rural Queensland property in the village of Allora, population less than 1000. Located north of Warwick, Denny makes the regular 350km round trip to Brisbane and the Gold Coast for competition. He is one of eight siblings.