Luge Olympic Medalist

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Brian Martin is a young man who has dedicated himself to

working hard. He doesn’t feel he is exceptionally better

athletically than his friends or other athletes, but he knows

what his goal is, and he knows he has to work harder than

everyone else to reach it.

Since the inception of the U.S. Luge Association in 1979,

the U.S. Luge Team has skyrocketed to world-class competitor

status, winning more than 300 international medals. As

a member of the most successful doubles team in U.S. luge

history, Brian Martin and his partner Mark Grimmette have

captured 9 world cups and 39 international medals. In addition

to their 2 Olympic Medals—silver in 2002 and bronze in 1998—

they have raced to 3 overall world cup titles, 2 Challenge Cup

Crowns, and 2 World Championship bronze medals.

They are now working on building momentum toward a

gold medal finish in the 2006 winter games in Turin, Italy. It’s

what he’s worked for, it’s what he has devoted his life to, and

he is determined to accomplish this goal.

Brian Martin

Unyielding Devotion and Dedication

I don’t win races because I am a superman, it is all the hard work

and determination that got me there.

Idon’t see myself as an extraordinary person. What I have

accomplished may be extraordinary. I have been to the

Olympic Games twice and have come away with a medal

Source: Printed with permission from Brian Martin.

both times. Luge is the sport that I have dedicated my life to.

It may be a simple sport—get on a sled and go down the hill

and the fastest to the bottom wins. But it definitely did not

come easily or without a lifetime of dedication and relentless

effort.

I grew up in Palo Alto, California, where I was just like

every other kid in town. I was involved in a lot of sports just

like all of my friends. I played soccer well, but I wasn’t Pélé.

I swam fast, but not as fast as the other guy. I made a few

spectacular catches out in right field, but at the plate no one

feared me. I didn’t fit the mold for cross-country, but I was

still a fast runner. What is most important is that I enjoyed

participating in a lot of sports, irrespective of whether I excelled

in them or not. I was never the best guy out there, but

I was in the game, and I always had fun.

I have been sliding for over half of my life, and I have won

countless races, in addition to taking several titles. Winning

a medal in the Olympics is certainly exceptional. But what

I find equally significant and extraordinary is the unyielding

devotion and dedication required to reach my “personal best”

in the sport of luge.

I have spent so much time dedicated to the sport, I often

think to myself, “How many runs have I taken? How many

pounds have I lifted? How many hours have I trained?” To be

quite honest, I don’t know. We train eleven months of the year

and half of that time there are no tracks in the world open for

us to slide on. For a good part of that time, I am in the weight

room just waiting for the winter to come so it will get cold

enough for ice. All summer it is lifting, jumping, throwing,

and running. It takes years to get into shape and even longer

to learn the game.

When people see the Olympics every four years, I often get

the feeling that they think the athletes are at the games because

we were all born with some extra, super gene that has

transformed us into something beyond human, quite possibly

bordering on superhuman, and even more extreme, the athletic

“freaks of nature.” I have to laugh to myself. It just isn’t

true. I’m still the guy that goes mountain biking with my friends,

Will and Dave, who love to boast about how easily they kick

my butt!”

I don’t win races because I am a superman, it is the all the

hard work and determination that got me there. That doesn’t

mean that there are no mistakes to be made and lessons to be

learned. I have learned some hard lessons over the years. For

example, in the technical area of the sport, when it is colder

than minus ten degrees Celsius it is better to run sharper runners,

so that you will keep control of the sled, not the rounder

runner, which is faster. The sharper runner offers more control

so you can keep off the walls at seventy miles an hour.

Sometimes you just don’t go only for the speed; it’s the skill

and training that are important.

With good coaches and sharp listening skills, you don’t

have to learn all of the lessons the hard way. I have learned to

get the most I can from the skilled professionals around me.

I have been lucky. I have been surrounded by a strong support

system. My coach has taught me about the art of sled

building, he knows more about how to tune and finesse speed

out of a sled than I can ever hope to.

The sport of luge has taught me so much. Along with this

intensive learning process, one develops many personal goals.

One goal that is written in stone and I live by every day, is to

learn something new everyday, on or off the track.

Luge has given me the opportunity to travel around the

world. My first trip to Europe with the luge team was in 1990.

Our first track was in Sigulda, Latvia. This was when Latvia

was a part of the Soviet Union. We had to fly through Moscow.

It was an eye opening experience. We walked through the

shops and there was nothing to buy, whole department stores

with bare shelves and people milling around hoping that there

would be something that they needed. I have not only learned

about the sport of luge, but I have learned about the world.

Because of the hard work and intense effort of an everyday

guy (that being me), I have learned many valuable life lessons,

including how to go fast and how to be a better person.

These are two totally different lessons, but both being important

to who I am as a person, and what I do as an athlete.

I feel blessed that I have had the opportunity to follow my

dreams and compete in luge for so many years. I know that it

has not only been my dedication that has earned me spots on

two Olympic teams, but the lessons learned from my teammates

and coaches that has helped me reach my personal

pinnacle of success. Not all that I have learned has been on

the track.

The world is a big place and luge has given me the opportunity

to see a small slice of it. It has opened my eyes to what

is out there. I am certainly not done yet, and I still have more

to learn. The one thing I am sure of is that I am going to take

all that I have learned, along with the need to achieve, and go

out there, work hard, and win races.