By Duncan Mackay

Matthew Cowdrey has been appointed the general manager of Australia's team for this year's Commonwealth Youth Games in Apia ©APCTwenty three-time Paralympic medallist Matthew Cowdrey has been appointed general manager of Australia's team for this year's Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, it has been announced.

Cowdrey, Australia's most successful athlete in Paralympic history with 13 gold medals, who announced his retirement last month, will lead a team of 120 athletes and officials for the event in Samoa's capital Apia from September 7 until 12.

The 26-year-old from Adelaide takes over from three-time Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas, who had led Australia's team at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo in 2004, Pune 2008 and Isle of Man 2011. 

Former weighlifter Robert Kabbas, a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, had filled the role of general manager at the inaugural Games in Edinburgh in 2000. 

Cowdrey was head-hunted for the role by Perry Crosswhite, chief executive of Australian Commonwealth Games Association. 

"Perry asked me if I was interested and I didn't hesitate - I see it as a huge honour and a great opportunity to lead the team and help the next generation of Australian athletes," said Cowdrey.

"There is no reason why we won't see a number of athletes on this team step up to the plate for a home Games in 2018 when the Commonwealth Games come to the Gold Coast.

"If I can play some small part in their development and share my experiences with them then that would mean so much."

Matthew Crowdey has won a record 23 Paralympic medals, including 13 gold ©Getty ImagesMatthew Crowdey has won a record 23 Paralympic medals, including 13 gold ©Getty Images

Cowdrey has strong links to the Commonwealth Games, having won two gold medals at Melbourne 2006, a gold at Delhi 2010 and silver at Glasgow 2014.

"I have been lucky enough and privileged enough to attend three Paralympics and to be part of three Commonwealth Games including a home Games in Melbourne in 2006 and what an experience that was," he said. 

"I have also been very lucky to have seen what [Chef de Mission] Steve Moneghetti has done with the last two Commonwealth Games teams, it's exciting to take on this opportunity.

"To see Steve lead the team in Delhi in 2010 and Glasgow in 2014, teams I was a part of, has certainly given me a great example of an athlete turning their talents into management."

Australia plan to send a total of 82 athletes to Apia, competing in athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rugby sevens, squash, swimming and weightlifting

Australia finished second in the overall medals table in the Isle of Man four years ago, finishing behind England with a total of 74 medals, including 29 gold. 

"I have learnt a lot over the past 10-12 years and at the end of the day it is all about enjoying your sport and being part of the Australian team and it is my role to make it a fun experience for the whole team," said Cowdrey. 

"It can be daunting being away from home for the first time and among other sports and it is important for everyone to feel inclusive.

"And for them to have everything they need when it comes to game day and that everything runs smoothly."

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