top of page

Meet Matt Ralphs, the new saffa racing the pro circuit

We love to see South African athletes step into the spotlight and represent the rainbow nation amongst the pros. We've had our eyes on Matthew Ralphs for a while and are stoked to see him level up. After his first time racing with the pros at IRONMAN 70.3 in Belgium, we caught up with him to chat about where he comes from, what drives him and what his future goals are.

How did your triathlon journey begin? What inspired you to 'tri'?

"My journey into the world of triathlon is still very new, it has seemed to have flown by and I still feel very much like a beginner...

It all began in early February 2020, I competed in my first sprint triathlon after having purchased a bicycle a few weeks prior with the purpose of completing the 94.7 or ‘ride Joburg cycle race’. I heard about triathlon, I figured that I had a bike I may as well give one a shot, at the time I was running socially, doing the odd park run or local race and had started just to swim.

That sprint was brutal, I loved every second of it and was hooked from the get go. Shortly after COVID came and triathlon was put on hold for another year."

Tell us about your journey from age group athlete to pro athlete:

"Not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse, I am the personality type that I can’t do something half- hearted and triathlon was no different.

Although, from the get go I did not set out with the intention or turning “pro” but rather I just wanted to be as good as I could possibly be, and aimed to win a race or two. I spent 2021 and 2022 getting familiar with my new found passion. I had joined a local club and had entered a few 70.3 races on our local circuit.

It wasn’t till around mid 2022 that the idea of setting a goal to race as a professional had come to mind. I distinctly remember meeting Richard Lawrie, my now coach (who has played a bigger role in my success than he will ever imagine), and having coffee with him and mentioning the word “pro” as a goal of mine. I had no idea of what his actual thoughts were at the time as I didn’t have much of a track record to prove it, but his response and confidence in me and the belief in knowing that if I surround myself with the right team and individuals that this pipe dream would be possible. So thanks Rich for believing in me!"

Starting triathlon so late in life and essentially wanting to make a career out of it was and still is a very scary thought, one that crosses my mind regularly. I knew that if was going to chase this dream I would need to put in 300%. I am a qualified Biokineticist and over the past couple of years I have worked as well as ran my own practices.

In late 2022 I decided that I was going to give triathlon a shot. If it works, that's great, if not, then I’ll go back to work. So, I quit my job, moved provinces and have essentially been under the support of my family and what little savings I have had for the past year. I cannot thank my family and circle enough for this.

I watched my friends and colleagues establish their careers and build families, while I was giving all that up to chase a dream that has no guarantees, it is something that is extremely hard to do. I hope one day through my triathlon career I am able to return the favor to those who have supported me on this journey."

Tell us about the process, how you managed to bridge the gap from age grouper to pro:

"The beginning of 2023 is where the journey really began, towards getting that professional license, I had some good results behind my name, but in no way was I ready to make the transition.

My coach and I set out a plan that for the first half of the year to target a few key races and win them convincingly, those being SA Champs and Durban 70.3. Along with those races, I aimed to hit some performance metrics in training that would be very necessary for me to be able to compete in the pro field.

All went to plan and after winning Durban 70.3 this year we sat down and made the decision to apply for the pro license, which thankfully, was accepted.

Just as I felt as though I had age-group racing figured out it was now time to forget all of that and see what it’s like in the pro-field. Something I learnt VERY fast is that the two are immensely different. I jumped into the deep end for my pro debut at 70.3 Belgium, Knokke-Heist in September 2023.

It was a hard fought race, I believe the lessons I learned will be extremely valuable as I enter this “rookie” phase of my career such as, don’t take the inside line on the first Buoy with a bunch of seasoned ITU athletes ha ha."

So where to from here?

"With my debut out the way, I am more motivated than ever for the races to come. Ideally, I would like to get at least three 70.3 races under my best for the remainder of the year. One of which will be IRONMAN 70.3 Mossel bay, the other I am yet to confirm.

I believe this will set me up with a good base on how to tackle 2024 which will be the year where I aim to climb the professional ranks and establish a path to making a career out of this sport.

This newfound journey is one that I’d be lying if I said I didn’t question myself on a daily basis, yet is something I have never felt so excited to tackle and rise to the challenge.

One thing that will always remain is how grateful I am to my family and support system for allowing me to follow my dreams and I hope I can one day make them proud.

I would also like to give a special mention to the team at BizCash South Africa. Anyone who has ever taken part in triathlons, will know this is far from a cheap sport and just as they give support to small businesses they have taken a chance on me and given me the opportunity to take the leap forward to growing my career as a professional triathlete."


bottom of page