As a child, a classmate once called him a fat pig. As he grew older, he gradually got into shape, and in recent years, his body fat percentage has fallen to just four percent.
A boy who used to be the laughing stock has become a respected athlete who has elevated race walking in Slovakia to the top level.
Matej Tóth (1983)
Born and raised in Nitra, Matej Tóth moved to Banská Bystrica after he finished his journalism studies in Nitra to pursue race walking professionally. He trains at the Military Sports Centre Dukla. Tóth is a professional soldier. "But nobody expects me to defend my homeland," he joked.
Matej Tóth is the world champion and an Olympic winner. He came second in two European championships and has achieved the third-best time in history in the 50 km race.
In the last big race of his career at the Tokyo Olympics, he did not win a medal, and finished 14th.
Even though Tóth has not avoided controversies during his career, he belongs to the biggest names in the history of Slovak track-and-field disciplines and sports in general. Here is his big story.
Late to start
Tóth's career has been marked with a number of troubles. The biggest problems he had to cope with were when discrepancies in his biological passport may have caused him to lose his Olympic medal and his reputation.
As an athlete, he is widely respected by fans due to his modest and kind nature.
Tóth grew up in the Nitra neighbourhood of Klokočina. As a child, he tried football, but he quickly stopped when he was forced to train outside in the winter. Out in the street with friends he used to play ball hockey, mostly as the goalkeeper. At primary school, he changed his focus to track and field.
He was always into endurance disciplines. In the seventh grade, he tried race walking for the first time, competing in a few district and regional races. Then he reported to coach Peter Mečiar.
"I started rather late at 13. When coach Mečiar saw me, he said there was no place in race walking for such a chubby boy," Tóth recalled.