Next Stop: Olympic Village
NJDC veteran wins 2012 SPORTS `N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year Award.
New Jersey athlete Raymond Martin was recently crowned the 2012 SPORTS `N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year during the closing ceremonies of the 2012 National Junior Disability Championships (NJDC), in Mesa, Ariz.
Martin is no stranger to the NJDC or the wheelchair sporting community having also been recently nominated for an Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award (EPSY) in the classification of Best Male Athlete with a Disability. His list of achievements date back to when he was 5 years old and got his first taste for track and field.
Martin was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, which effects his ability to walk and unclench his hands. While it’s been a challenge most days, Martin has never allowed his disability to stand in the way of his passion for racing.
“Being on the track is freeing,” says Martin. “I no longer have a disability. I’m just racing on the track.”
His enthusiasms certainly paid off as he prepares to join Team USA in London for the 2012 Paralympic Games starting August 29, 2012, competing in the track and field events. “I’ll be doing the 100 to the 800,” says Martin. “My coach has been really outstanding in planning my training and has done great at balancing my sprint work with the long-distance work.”
Martin will join his team for additional training prior to heading to Olympic Village and looks forward to representing the U.S.A, and hopefully bringing home some gold medals. “A lot of work has gone into this day,” says Martin. “The Paralympic Games; It doesn’t get any bigger than that. To win gold for your country is a high honor.”
Martin will be competing in a specially designed racing chair that has been specifically tailored to maximize the way he sits. Because of his condition, it’s nearly impossible for Martin to bend his legs and be comfortable in a standard racing chair which left him in an awkward position.
To offset this, Eagle Sports Chairs owner Barry Ewing designed and constructed a unique bucket out of the frame of the chair that incorporates Martin’s body limitations and uses its natural geometry to provide a natural attack angle on the wheel.
“So much of the power comes out of the bottom of the rim,” says Martin. “Barry’s configuration is perfect. The chair is amazing.”
On winning the 2012 S`NS Junior Athlete of the Year Martin says, “This is a big thing.” While nominations are generally open throughout the year, S`NS officially begins the search for the next recipient in conjunction with the NJDC and presents the winner during the closing ceremonies. For Martin, it’s been a long wait for this day.
“Theres always a winner at the banquet and I have never gotten it, so I’m glad I was finally nominated,” Martin says. “Thanks to S`NS, my friends, and family. They are the ones who got me here.”
Martin was presented with a beautifully engraved platter, a free one year subscription certificate to S`NS, and a new wheelchair courtesy of Colours Wheelchair.
The SPORTS `N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year Award is replete with history spanning back to its inception more than 20 years ago. S`NS founding editor Cliff Crase, and wife Nancy felt the need for an award that recognized junior athletes and based on the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s (PVA) Jack Gerhardt award for adult athletes.
“Junior sports was quickly becoming more popular, and we felt there needed to be something as prestigious as PVA’s award,” says Nancy Crase. “The junior athletes can now win this award and then go on to win the adult award.”
If you know an outstanding young athlete, you’re invited to nominate him or her for the 2013 SPORTS `N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year. Send nominations, along with a current photo of the athlete to email@example.com.
For more on Raymond Martin, follow these links.
Next Stop: Olympic Village
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