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Born with no hands and only one leg. The natural progression? Become a table tennis player.  

Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games hopeful Martin Perry joined us for a Q&A at our online meetup on Remo. 

Martin spoke about how his three able bodied and highly competitive brothers motivated him to become the athlete he is today, overcoming disappointment following the postponement of 2020 Paralympic Games, and the importance of adopting a positive mindset to achieve goals.

 

How is lockdown going for you?

Very difficult. I competed at the Spanish Open two weeks before the government made the announcement, so I’ve had to so have been in additional two weeks to everyone else! For an athlete, all I want to do is train and compete, so having that taken away from me was difficult. Trying to replicate high level table tennis on your own at home isn’t easy!

Talk us through your life growing up…

It was fun! I was fortunate to have three brothers to play with. They were all able bodied, but there was no sympathy towards me by ensuring I always joined in. Whether it was sports, school work, or anything that they did, they made sure that I did it as well. 

My brothers used to put me in goal during football because they thought I wouldn’t be able to save shots!

How was it like having the competitive nature with your brothers?

My brothers used to put me in goal during football because they thought I wouldn’t be able to save shots! That only drove me on to be the best and win. The sibling rivalry was three fold for me. I had three people to beat! My unbringing instilled an huge competitive drive within me.

What was your inspiration to take up table tennis?

It was a summer camp in high school and I thought it looked cool! It was so primitive and basic in the beginning: for me to hold a table tennis bat they used to wrap a dishcloth around my arm which made a sleeve, then had the bat would go inside and it’d fasten using velcro. It was so awful but so fun!

For me to hold a table tennis bat they used to wrap a dishcloth around my arm!

You mentioned London 2012 Paralympics being a massive inspiration for you, it must be surreal that you now call them your team mates…

Yes! What an experience. I was lucky enough to get tickets for a team event and witnessed these gods battling it out on the table. The experience of London 2012 was the spark that made me dedicate my life to the sport. Within three years of witnessing them in London I was training, living and competing with them.

The experience of London 2012 was the spark that made me dedicate my life to the sport.

What inspires and motivates you?

I genuinely want to be the best that I can be. I draw a lot of inspiration from the bad times, the big losses or tough defeats, using that ugly feeling of defeat to fuel and fire me. If I can play table tennis to such a high level with no hands and one leg, then you can achieve anything!

How important is the mind over the body?

Sports psychology is paramount to success. The saying ‘mind over matter’ is completely true. It’s not necessarily what you can do, its what you think you can do. If someone says I can’t do something, the thought in my head completely switches to motivate me to work harder and prove them wrong.

 

Sports psychology is paramount to success. The saying ‘mind over matter’ is completely true.

How did the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games effect your mindset?

When it slowly became obvious that the games would be postponed it felt like a massive sucker punch. I felt initially that I was robbed of opportunities. I had worked so hard to put myself in the best position and then something I can’t control meant the dream is over. 

I needed to change my mindset. I thought to myself: what can I control? I now know that the tournament will go ahead in 2021, so it gives me another 12 months to work harder and ensure I’m in a better position going into the qualification period.

A lot of businesses will be setting long, medium and long term goals. Is that something you and your team do as well?

Absolutely. We work in reverse: start by picturing the big goal. Then what’s going to help you achieve that big goal? Even if you don’t achieve the big goal, you will have achieved most of what you set out to do.

 

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