Scott upbeat on Tokyo journey

To say 2020 has so far not gone to script for Para-canoeist Scott Martlew would probably be an understatement.

In January, he suffered a jolt to his preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics by fracturing a hip in an unfortunate domestic accident.

Meanwhile, more recently, the Christchurch paddler has had to make the mental shift of preparing for a re-scheduled Paralympics in 2021 while doing his best maintaining fitness training in lockdown.

Yet Scott, who suffered a left leg amputation aged 17, is more than used to overcoming adversity and the two-time KL2 World Championship medallist is comfortable with the rapidly changing circumstances and looking ahead with confidence to 2021.

After winning a World Championship 200m KL2 bronze medal last August, the 27-year-old made a successful return to training and was tracking well in training and targeting February’s Oceania Championships in Sydney, where he hoped to have a crack at Australia’s Paralympic and World Champion Curtis McGrath.

Yet those best laid plans came to a painful end when the Cantabrian tripped and fell on the edge of the path while painting the garage.

“It definitely hurt, especially when I sat down,” he says. “I later went to an afterhours medical centre, which did not find any fractures,” he recalls. “But the hip continued to be pretty sore, so I went to see the sports doctor (at HPSNZ). I underwent an MRI scan, which revealed I had fractured the left hip.”

Thankfully, the injury has no long-term impact on his fitness. In the wake of the fracture, he adjusted his training to work on the grinder and ski erg and he carried out gym work but within three-and-a-half weeks he was back on the water.

“I don’t believe the injury would have had too much of an effect on Tokyo,” he explains of the Paralympics, if they had proceeded on the original date in August-September 2020.

“I was tracking pretty well, I’d suffered from a lack of racing and it was a shame to miss the Oceania Champs, but I was feeling good in the boat.” 

Continuing to train in preparation for the international campaign, under the guidance of long-time coach, Leigh Barker, his plans for overseas racing during the 2020 European summer were abruptly ended by the global Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Paralympic Games were postponed by a year and plans needed to be hastily re-made.

“As the situation played out it was becoming increasingly clear the Games wouldn’t go ahead, so I was definitely happy for the decision to postpone it,” says Scott. “If it had have gone ahead than many athletes would have been disadvantaged by not being able to train. You always want everyone to have an equal opportunity to train and to be able to race them at their best. Since then, the virus has taken a turn for the worst and we need to remember that people’s health always comes first.”

Borrowing gym equipment – such as dumbbells, bench pull and dead lift bar – as supplied by HPSNZ has allowed for a relatively smooth transition to gym work during lockdown. Scott also has an erg at his Christchurch home, where he has been carrying out low intensity work, and he has combined erg and gym work across his training week with regular bike rides.

“I’ve been trying to keep as active as possible during lockdown,” he explains. “We are in a little bit of a weird state not having a clear target to aim for in the European summer but we just have to keep as fit as we can, stay within our bubbles and stick to the government regulations.” 

Continuing to work from home in his job as an estimator he has also made the most of his extra downtime – ticking off a number of DIY jobs around the house, taking his 10-month old Cocker Spaniel puppy for walks and honing his Call of Duty skills on the Play Station.

Yet his main focus remains his desire to deliver of his best at the Paralympics, which will now take place in August-September of 2021.

“It has definitely given me more time (to prepare),” he adds. “Due to the coronavirus I’ve missed a bit of racing while I also decided not to compete at last year’s Blue Lake 1 and Blue Lake 2, so my hope is to get a bit more racing in later this year.”