Matthew Boling and Caleb Cavanaugh

Georgia track and field's Matthew Boling (left) takes the baton from Caleb Cavanaugh (right) during the 4-x-400-meter relay on Jan. 16, 2021 at the Clemson Invitational. (Courtesy/UGA Sports Comm)

With multiple SEC Runner of the Week honors already in the 2021 season, Matthew Boling has high expectations and goals for the future.

Boling’s career-best time in the 200-meter dash heading into the season was 20.66 seconds. It took only his season debut in the event to set a new personal best with a time of 20.53.  

With the 2020 outdoor track and field season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boling said his competitiveness is at an all-time high, as he was eager to get back out on the track. 

“I put in work over quarantine, I really trained every day,” Boling said. “It feels good to be able to showcase all that hard work.”

Boling was selected as the SEC Men's Freshman Runner of the Year last season. With the track season making a return this spring, Boling has not taken it for granted. 

“What really separates him from his competition is his will to win and his addiction to the process,” said associate head coach Althea Thomas. “He really, really appreciates and embraces challenges to be the best.”

Thomas also said Boling’s mindset simply makes him a great athlete to train and work with, calling it “every coach’s dream.”

Chadwick Collier is the track and field head coach at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, Texas, and emphasized this notion toward Boling as well. While at Strake Jesuit, Boling broke the national high school 100-meter dash record with a time of 9.98 seconds.

“He’s very, very driven and he’s very, very goal-oriented,” Collier said. “Once he sets his mind to doing something … he will give fanatical effort to succeed.”

In addition, Collier highlighted how much of a competitor Boling was for both his teammates and community.

“Every time he steps on the track, he makes a statement,” Collier said. “The brighter the lights and bigger the stage, the bigger the performance.”

Collier also noted how his physical training characteristics make him such a dominant track athlete.

“When you're coaching him and tell him that he needs to alter something with his technique, he just has the ability to do it, which is very, very special,” Collier said.

Collier emphasized Boling's off-track characteristics as well.

“He takes care of his body, he gets the rest that he needs. He does all the little things right,” Collier said. “You add all that stuff up with his talent and he’s just had a tremendous amount of success.”

While Boling's success at Strake Jesuit and Georgia amassed attention, his TikTok platform also played a role in his name notoriety. As of press time, his profile has more than 783,000 followers and 24.6 million likes.

Collier also noted how much physically stronger Boling looks since he left high school due to weight training while at Georgia, adding to the many factors that have contributed to his success.

Boling’s father, Mark Boling, said his success so far at Georgia isn’t surprising, due to how much passion he knows is fueling Matthew.

“He has a passion behind just about everything he does,” Boling said. “[I am] just pleased that he is continuing with the same work ethic that he had in high school that got him to where he is now.”

Mark Boling said Matthew’s ability to work and grow to a high level in a sport started when he was younger, even before he ran track. Matthew competed heavily in taekwondo when he was younger, working and elevating all the way to a black belt. 

Because of this, Mark Boling believes this made Matthew recognize that with a strong work ethic, he could achieve whatever he worked for. This in turn gave him the confidence when he first entered the sport of track and field, leading him to where he is today.  

On top of the many physical and mental attributes that Boling possesses, he also credits his teammates for his recent success, which is why he chose to run track at Georgia.

“Being around people who are as focused as myself just drives me even more and makes me wanna work even harder,” Boling said. “I really wanna be surrounded with these people because I know that’s what's gonna make me my best.”

With Georgia’s indoor season coming to a close, Boling has heavy expectations for himself and his teammates. Boling said doing well at nationals is his biggest goal at the moment. One of Boling’s foremost goals is to compete at the Olympics. 

Collier first noticed Boling at a track camp when he was in the eighth grade. While still early, Collier knew instantly that Boling had a bright future. Mark Boling forecasts the same, saying that Boling’s ultimate goal is to win the gold medal in the 100-meter, 200-meter and long jump. 

“He wants to be on the [U.S.] Olympic Team,” Mark Boling said. “Ultimately, his main goal would be to repeat something that Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis had done, which is to stand on the podium at the Olympics.”