Huntingdon man recovers from coma and cancer to complete triathlon

Triathlete Matt Hawksley, who has cheated death eight times, in training at One Leisure, Sawtry

Triathlete Matt Hawksley, who has cheated death eight times, in training at One Leisure, Sawtry - Credit: Archant

A HUNTINGDON man has completed a gruelling triathlon exactly two years after waking from a coma.

On July 27, Matthew Hawksley, 25, took part in the Super Sprint event of the London Triathlon, tackling a 400m swim, a 10km bike ride and a 2.5km run.

This achievement is made even greater as it was not known whether Matthew would ever be able to walk or talk again after sustaining serious injuries in a diving accident in June 2011.

During a work trip to County Sligo, Ireland, Matthew misjudged the depth and swan-dived 15 feet from a harbour wall into one-metre deep water, which fractured his vertebrae and sent him into cardiac arrest.

Paramedics revived him four times on the beach and twice more in the ambulance.

Once he reached hospital, surgeons inserted plates and bolts to form a cage around the damaged vertebrae in his neck before putting him into a medically induced coma for five weeks.

The triathlon marks the end of a trying two years for Matthew, who also contracted MRSA and pneumonia in hospital and was diagnosed with testicular cancer in May last year.

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He said: “When I was in hospital I contracted MRSA and pneumonia and it was pretty much touch and go for me.

“All of this happened in the space of a year – a pretty hard one at that.”

By taking part in the triathlon, Matthew raised around £1300 for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Back Up Trust who have helped his recovery.

Speaking about the momentous occasion, Matthew said: “It went really well, I did lots better than I expected. It was nice to know that I set myself a challenge and I got it done.”

Completing the challenge in just 2 hours and 38 minutes, swimming the 400m swimming section of the race was particularly significant for Matthew.

He said: “I was most proud of the swim considering that it was two years to the day that I came out of my coma. The last time I swam in that sort of water I drowned. It was really good – it was quite relentless though.”

Matthew visited his local gym and swimming pool and cycled in his area to train for the triathlon.

He said: “I didn’t have a special hard training regime. Whether I was ready or not I was going to go there and get the job done.”

He was accompanied on the day by his best friend Patrick Newsome, 25, who he hopes to undertake extreme challenges with in the future.

Matthew said: “As soon as Patrick and I finished we had got the bug.”

Summing up his achievement, Matthew said: “After the first month anniversary and the six month anniversary goes by it is just another day, but it’s nice to say ‘It’s been two years, look what can be done’.”

INFORMATION: To sponsor Matthew and donate to Macmillan, text HAWK89 £1 TO 70070 OR HAWK56 £1 to 70070 for the Back Up Trust, or visit or