Michigan City native Martin overcomes injuries to qualify for Paralympic Games

NWI Times | Paul Oren Times Correspondent | Jul 19, 2016 | Link to Article

After two traumatic injuries nearly ended Jeffrey “Scott” Martin’s life, the Michigan City native wasn’t about to let a simple knee injury derail his chances of making the U.S. Olympic team.

Martin was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marines, serving three tours of duty in Iraq. On two different occasions Martin’s Humvee hit improvised explosive devices, the second of which gave the 2000 Michigan City graduate permanent brain damage and left him partially paralyzed on his right side.

Martin persevered through the injuries and took up para-cycling in 2010. After several years of top competition, Martin set his sights on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this September. Everything looked in place for Martin to make the team until a balky knee injury sidelined him for most of 2015 and threatened his chances at making the squad.

“It’s disheartening that something as simple as a knee can keep you out of competition, especially compared to multiple brain injuries,” Martin said. “Luckily the U.S. Olympic Committee has great doctors and they were able to help me get back.”

Martin was one of 18 cycling athletes named to Team USA earlier this month by U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee. Athletes were selected based on their performances over the 2015-16 season. While Martin missed much of that time dealing with a knee injury, he stormed back at the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Cycling Team Trials on July 2 in Charlotte, North Carolina, finishing in sixth place. That performance was enough to warrant a spot on the team.

Martin is expected to compete in five different events in Rio.

“I had such a rough year with the injury and I really just worked to fight my way back for competition sake,” Martin said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m going. I think once I get to Rio, but right now I’m just concentrating on making it through the next month and staying healthy. I think once I get to the athlete village and once I get all the (Team USA) clothes, then it will hit me.”

While Martin is thrilled to make the team, he’s certainly not going to rest on that accomplishment. The knee injury may never fully go away — the injury is to his right knee, the side where Martin is partially paralyzed — but he also isn’t going to use that as an excuse.

 “I’m pretty nervous, but I’ll be racing the majority of the same guys that I’ve been competing against for the last several years,” Martin said. “It really will come down to who is going to have the better day.”

Martin originally found cycling as a way to help rehab from the injuries he suffered overseas, and he fell in love with the sport. Martin has rattled off strong showings over the last five years at the Warrior Games, the Para-Cycling Road Nationals and UCI Para-Cycling World Track Championships.

Martin moved to Oceanside, California after he returned from Iraq, but he and his wife have since relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado.