Experience never gets old for two kiwi Paralympians
Experience never gets old for two kiwi ParalympiansPeter Martin and Tim Prendergast might be about to compete in their fourth Paralympic Games in London, but the excitement and enormity of such an occasion is yet to grow old for the duo who make up two thirds of the countries athletics contingent.
Prendergast who now resides in London hasn’t missed a beat since attending his first games in Sydney in 2000. “In Sydney I was a bushy eyed 21-year-old, I had a lot of fun and not a lot of personal expectation and I came away with a couple of Silvers. From there I’ve gone on a pretty amazing journey with Gold in Athens. Beijing maybe didn’t go to plan, but that’s what’s got me excited about the prospects of London 2012,” Prendergast explains with that look of excitement on his face.
And whilst feeling a mix of nerves and excitement, he feels he’s learnt to harness the overload of emotions. “My mind-set is very calm, I appreciate the magnitude of the occasion, I’m not overwhelmed by it and have learnt so much on my journey, so very excited.”
Prendergast has every reason to be over the moon about competing at the Olympic Park Stadium. If the 33 year old lives up to expectations and makes the 1500 and 800 metre finals he’ll be cheered on by a packed out stadium, making a change from his usual training runs. “I’m very much used to running in front of a couple of people and perhaps a dog, so to walk out there and run in front of 80 thousand people is something you’ll never get sick of,” Prendergast emphasises.
Martin on the other hand is back for another shot. After winning nearly everything there was to win in the Paralympic throwing disciplines, a year after Beijing the 50 year old farmer from the Waikato felt throwing the towel in was the only thing left to throw. But after three years on the side-line he admits to feeling re-energized about the challenges he’ll face in London. “I went and commentated in Christchurch at the world champs [in 2010] and when I got there I looked at what the guys were doing and I kind of felt perhaps I could have done something there. It’s a new challenge now, to see if I can come back.”
Martin first donned the black singlet at Atlanta in 1996 where he won gold in the shot put and silver in the javelin. He went on to defend his shot put title in Sydney and Athens along with setting a world record in the Greek capital. In addition to those achievements he also won a bronze in the pentathlon in Sydney and won gold and achieved a world record in the javelin and a bronze in the discus in Athens.
Both have been team captains before and have naturally assumed the statesman role amongst the tight knit 24 strong squad, but the changes from Atlanta to London mean the athletes no longer look towards just one person for support or inspiration. “There’s a lot more support within the various teams now than we had back in those days,” said Martin. “ And you don’t want to over awe someone new either, because they’ve got their own experiences to learn,” he went on to finish.
Holly Robinson is the final piece in the Athletics jigsaw puzzle. At just 17 and a Junior World Record Holder in the F46 Shot Put, the girl from Hokitika on the South Islands West Coast is one to keep an eye on, especially in the javelin.