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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State athlete pushes toward Paralympics

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Mathew Pevoto, Sept. 20, cycling on Blue Hole trails. Photo Courtesy of Richard Shaver

A Texas State senior is going into his third year of training for the 2020 Paralympics, all with no mobility of his feet.
Matthew Pevoto, recreation therapy senior, was diagnosed with Spina Bifida at birth. This condition is a congenital defect of the spine which can result in paralysis. Pevoto has had no mobility or feeling in his feet his entire life. However, he still has the ability to walk and run with the assistance of crutches.
Pevoto said his day-to-day life is fairly normal and not too different from any other student’s life.
“Yes, I walk with crutches, but I don’t see it as another obstacle in my day,” Pevoto said.
The fact he uses crutches might suggest he has a harder time, but that is not the case. Pevoto has become a successful athlete, regardless of the condition of his body.
Pevoto said he has always been influenced by sports. He grew up in a small town in Louisiana where sports were the center of the community. While Pevoto did not participate on sports teams in high school, he still exercised and kept in shape.
Pevoto said when he began college, he wanted to continue to stay in shape and work out as normal. He began participating in Spartan Races, which are obstacle course races that range mileage with military-style barriers embedded throughout the race.
“When I first started, there were only one or two athletes with my disability that were racing independently,” Pevoto said.
Pevoto has competed in three types of Spartan Races: Sprint, Super and Beast. Each type of race has different levels of difficulty and obstacles.
Pevoto said after his first race he started to receive positive feedback.
“My (local and disabled communities) have been supportive from the very beginning,” Pevoto said. “After my second race, I had someone tell me I inspired them.”
Participating in Spartan Races was just the beginning of Pevoto’s racing career. He has been retired from Spartan Races for two years and is now working toward a Paralympic career.
Pevoto started making the Paralympics his goal three years ago. Since then, he has competed in international track competitions to build himself up.
Pevoto said competing in a world competition for track and field in June 2018 was an inspiring experience. He said the opportunity to compete alongside world-record holders helped him see his goal clearer.
In order to qualify for the Paralympics, athletes must compete in the national track and field competition and each person must exhibit a series of recorded race times.
Currently, Pevoto trains by working out through road racing, an endurance and speed exercise in which he rides his three-wheeled bicycle for miles at a time. His bicycle allows him to keep his legs strapped up and utilize his arms to push the bicycle forward.
Pevoto utilizes Blue Hole Regional Park’s trails to train for racing.
Maggie Martin, supervisor at Blue Hole and recreation therapy senior, met Pevoto at Blue Hole when he started training there regularly.
“He really does light up when he tells you about his racing,” Martin said. “I think Blue Hole is really honored to have him train there”.
Pevoto said he has worked for years to be able to compete at the level he does. He said learning from other adaptive athletes has been a crucial part of his success and motivation.
“Inspiration is all around us,” Pevoto said. “We just have to look for it.”
Saryn Nelson, recreation therapy graduate student, met Pevoto through school. She said they interacted from time to time through various athletic programs for adaptive athletes. She said she does not find it surprising Pevoto is training for the Paralympics.
“I consider him an elite athlete, and I know he can compete at that level,” Nelson said.
From the very beginning of his racing career, Pevoto has evolved inside a community of inspiration and motivation that now is preparing him for his greatest challenge yet.

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