The ultimate IRONMAN or is it ‘IRONDAD’?


Every little boy wants his dad to be ‘IRONMAN’ – little 1-year-old Riley struck it lucky as his dad really is an IRONMAN – a champion actually. Matt won the South African IRONMAN 70.3 title in East London for the fourth time earlier this year.

We caught up with him to ask what it’s like being a dad to Riley and what they’ll be getting up to on Father’s Day…

Tell us about your son?

Riley John Trautman is a year old now – he celebrated his first birthday during lockdown with a Zoom party. He’s a very active and loving little boy who keeps us really busy, but also brings endless amounts of joy to our lives.

ALSO SEE: Kiddies virtual party guide

Tell us about Riley’s birth?

It was incredible. My wife, Nicole was determined to have a natural unmedicated birth which, as it turns out, isn’t that easy to do in private hospitals in South Africa these days. But after changing hospitals and finding the right OBGYN at the last minute we were able to do this.

Were you in the birthing room with Nicole? 

Yes, we had been to a great birthing workshop together leading up to the big day and my wife, being the super organised person that she is, had the whole process semi planned out. From the birthing ball and candles, to the positive affirmations and calming music – it was like race preparation taken to the next level!

ALSO SEE: Maternity hospital policies during COVID-19

What was your first thought when you saw your baby for the first time? 

Relief I think mostly. I was very proud of Nicole, and overjoyed that the little guy had arrived safely.

Matt and Nicole with Riley

Tell us about your challenges? Has it been difficult raising a child during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Thankfully Riley is at an age where the backyard is a big enough area for him to play. His routine hasn’t had to change too much, although I think he’s missed seeing his Top Tots friends and attending his swim lessons. It’s also been hard on family and friends who have missing out on watching him grow.

How do you balance being a full-time athlete and a dad at the same time?

Nicole is home with Riley full time at the moment, so that really helps. The challenge of travelling to races has also been taken away, so I think I’ve actually been able to spend more time with him because of the lockdown, which has been great. We both have our training and nap routine nicely synced now.

How has the transition from being an athlete to a full-time dad shaped you as a person?

I like to think I’m more grounded and have a better life perspective now. Being a professional athlete requires a certain level of selfishness to succeed. But, with that, comes an often unnecessary obsession to workout, which I’ve learned doesn’t  always lead to a better race day performance. It’s now much easier to leave my training at the door and focus on being present and being a dad after each workout.

What will you be doing on your first Father’s Day? 

I’ll probably go for a long run in the morning and then have a nice breakfast with everyone and spend the day together. Maybe we’ll go for a walk together and just hang out

ALSO SEE: 5 quick and easy breakfast-in-bed recipes for Father’s Day

Do you and Riley have a special bonding ritual? 

Every night, after his bath, we read stories together. Otherwise, we like playing in the garden and going for walks .

Dad and son

If you could have one thing for Father’s Day what would it be? 

A full English breakfast.

What does your perfect Father’s Day look like?

Without lockdown restrictions it would be good to get out to the beach or somewhere like the aquarium.There are loads of places we’re keen to take Riley to explore once we’re allowed.

Have you had any funny/embarrassing moments as a new dad yet?

Last year we travelled to various races together, first to Europe, then to the US. There was one pre-flight nappy blow-out that was quite traumatising at the time, but funny in hindsight. Needless to say, always carry a change of clothes for both you and child when flying!

What was the best piece of parenting advice you’ve received so far? 

Follow your instincts and always do what you think is right for you and your baby. There is no rule book.

What advice do you have for new dads welcoming babies during COVID-19?

Embrace the time you have together. Mom is going to need you much more, as there is potentially less family support available. Remember, it’s a team effort.

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