BAYONNE, N.J. — He’s just 21 years old and boasts a resume that would rival any seasoned athlete.
In a short amount of time, Raymond Martin has broken records, stunned competitors and struck gold.
But its likely you’ve never heard of him.
Despite not getting the top billing his counterparts in the Olympics receive, Martin, a Jersey City native, is a clear favorite to bring home gold when he heads to Rio in August to
represent the US in wheelchair track events at the Paralympics.
“People who are unfamiliar with Paralympic sport definitely are surprised sometimes about what we can do,” he told PIX11 News. “When they ask me how fast can a wheelchair racer do a marathon and I say an hour and 20 minutes, they are blown away.”
Back in 2012 during the London games, Martin won four gold medals and he followed that up with five more at the 2013 World Championships.
Unfortunately, they’re accolades that went unnoticed, a common theme for persons with disabilities.
“The biggest misconception about this community is that we’re not able and that term ‘disability’ kind of adds to that,” Martin said.
“We have a lot of disabled athletes that are trying to find something even recreational,” explained April Martin, the gold medalist Paralympian’s mother. “Opposed to sitting home, sitting on the porch watching everyone walk by or with a basketball – there’s basketball for them.”
It's Martin’s parents who have always told him to not let his disability, a congenital disorder he was born with called Arthogryposis that affects his joints and flexibility, define who he was.
And it was his coach Jimmy Cuevas who pushed him to new heights.
“They can do any sport like any other kid and that is something that we offer and I’m very proud of that.”
Cuevas and his Bayonne-based competitive adaptive sports team the North Jersey Navigators is already prepping the next generation of athletes. all looking at Martin as a leader with no limits.
“Even now I’ll do gym and I do soccer,” Miguel Jimenez a para-athlete with the North Jersey Navigators said. “I’ll help with the soccer team.”
“I’m not really the best player out there but I help out and I make sure I’m an athlete that counts.
As Martin gets ready for Rio, it’s the grueling challenges ahead that get him excited and eager to hit the track.
“I feel like there’s a lot of satisfaction doing something difficult,” he said. “While marathon may not be my best race or my best event – the challenge of it definitely adds to it."