Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meet the People - 27

Another in the Series Meet the People - Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things - Rob Martin (Ngai Tahu, Ngati Mahaki) never turns away from a challenge. There’s nothing he likes better than testing his own limits and if that comes with a competitive edge, so much the better. Rob, 43, who lost his lower right leg after a motorcycle accident in 1985, is fresh from his third New York marathon, raced on a hand cycle in November last year.
“I’m very competitive and getting 5th this year was just the best feeling ever. I was second in the 2008 marathon but I finished in a better time this year so I was happy. Being part of the New York marathon is amazing. There are over two million spectators and they all go mad. It’s a real party atmosphere for the whole 42 kilometres. That’s a real buzz,” says Rob. Rob is no stranger to success. In 2007 he raced in two demonstration stages of the famous Tour de France; he is the only hand cyclist to have ever completed Le Race between Christchurch and Akaroa; and he is both the 2009 Canterbury and National Hand Cycling Road Race and Time Trial Champion. He also played in the first New Zealand wheelchair basketball team in Australia in the late eighties; but when someone lent him a hand cycle he was hooked.
Rob immediately decided to ride the handcycle from Hokitika to Christchurch with his mother, Win Martin, as support crew.
“That took me 15.5 hours over two and a half days and I was the first person to cross the new Otira Viaduct. Afterwards Mum checked with the Guinness Book of Records and they awarded me the Guinness Record for the longest journey (247km) by a hand-cranked cycle. That record no longer stands but it was pretty special getting it back in 1999,” Rob says. Among Rob’s many achievements since, is his participation in the Gold Coast Half-Marathon on elbow crutches in 2000; his crossing of Cook Strait in a kayak with former Olympian Ian Ferguson in 2002; his first New York marathon on a hand cycle in 2001; and his sixth placing in the European Hand Cycle Circuit in 2007. Now he has his eye on the big prize – participation in the 2012 Paralympics in London and he’s prepared to continue his punishing weekly training schedule of boxing workouts and training rides with able-bodied road cyclists to make sure he’s fit and ready.

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