Wearside Paralympic golden boy Matt Wylie has been handed the keys to a very special motor following his Rio win.
Washington teenager Matt took gold in the S9 50metres freestyle in Brazil earlier this month.
His victory saw him become the first British Paralympic medallist in the men’s S9 50m Freestyle since the modern classification system was introduced in 1992.
And car giant Nissan has now recognised his sensational triumph by giving him a gold electric powered Leaf car at the firm’s Sunderland plant.
The past month has been a whirlwind for Matt, who arrived back in the North East last week.
“The last few weeks have just been crazy,” said the 19-year-old City of Sunderland club swimmer, of Teal Farm in Washington.
“People have been coming up to me in the street and congratulating me which feels quite surreal.
“But it’s fantastic to see people taking an interest in swimming and para sport too.”
Matt added that his win had been years in the making, fitting in hours of training around his time as a pupil at Biddick Academy.
“Me and my coach Danny Thompson had a Rio flag up and thought ‘we could do this’.
“We were maybe looking at targeting the Tokyo Games in 2020 but when I went to the Europeans and won this year it was a massive confidence boost ahead of Rio.”
Speaking about the eye-catching car, Matt added: “It’s a bit bright!
“But I’ve been driving a Leaf for a few years and it’s perfect for me and getting to and from training.
“To be recognised by such a big, local company which is only a few minutes from where I live is great. It feels a bit more personal.”
Matt’s proud dad Mike, 47, who works as an IT manager at Nissan and has been at the company since 1991, said: “It’s been phenomenal ever since Matt won.
“We were out there supporting him, but this has been seven, eight, even nine years of training for just 26 seconds of furious effort in the pool.
“He’s quite shy but has always been very focused.
“To hear that people have been inspired by what he has achieved makes you feel emotional, but he’s taking it all in his stride.”