The fire is rekindled in Paralympics veteran Peter Martin though he admits his fourth Games are also a step into the unknown as he contests the shot put and javelin in London.
The shot put final is tonight with the javelin final on Tuesday night. Having been part of the 1996 (Atlanta), 2000 (Sydney) and 2004 (Athens) teams, the 50-year-old Waikato farmer will call on all his experience to get back into the groove at this level.
With four golds (including the shot and javelin double in Athens), a silver and two bronze medals, Martin certainly knows what it takes to succeed in the atmosphere that will envelop London's massive stadium.
He stepped away before the previous Paralympics in Beijing but after commentating at the 2010 world championships in Christchurch, his competitive urge returned.
“Pre-Beijing I lost the desire. I'd been there and done that . . . world records, gold medals . . . your mind gets a little tired,” Martin said.
“I wasn't emotional about missing Beijing at all. But when I got to Christchurch, I looked at what the guys were doing and thought perhaps I could have done something there. It's a new challenge now to see if I can come back.
“I'm mentally refreshed and I'm here to do as well as I can and see if I can get back there.” Martin said he had to change his diet and lifestyle to get back into his training and competition regime.
“I didn't let myself go too much when I did retire so that helped. I haven't been in squads or systems as such, so there wasn't that pressure - I just did it myself with my coach Bev Savage. I got back on the circuit and I enjoyed it and I'm throwing well again.” Still, he admits this is a new challenge with uncertainties after eight years since his last Paralympics. “It is to an extent - there are a few guys that are still on the circuit that I've competed against over the years and there is also a new group that have come through. I'll just be going out there and doing my thing. If it's good enough on the day, so be it.”
He says he's about to find out if age is a barrier. “Being here shows that it's not impossible.” With that age comes wisdom. It's a commodity he hopes to use to his advantage but he'll also pass that on to his New Zealand team- mates when it's appropriate.
“When questions are asked I'm quite happy to offer my thoughts and experiences. You don't want to overawe somebody, particularly new athletes - they have their own experiences to learn [from].
"But I will tone someone down or wind someone up if they need it.
“We support each other well, that's the thing with the Paralympics team; it is a family.
“One of the big differences now is there is a lot more support staff around the groups than we had back in those days. We had more of a generic team staff,” he says, looking back to Atlanta in 1996.” Martin set the tone for the New Zealand team by leading a haka - learnt from his wheelchair rugby days with the Wheelblacks - as the flag was raised at the athlete's village.
Cyclists Chris Ross and Nathan Smith are in action tonight along with rower Danny McBride and the strong swimming team.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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