Sgt. 1st Class Jay Martin, a trumpet player in the Army’s Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, openly admits he was never really athletic. “I was not athletic until my mid-forties and I started racing BMX bicycles, believe it or not,” said Martin.
Biking was his new hobby until an accident Jan. 6, 2018, at an indoor bike park. Martin knew immediately on impact that his legs were not going to be the same. After immediate surgery he learned he would never walk again.
As he transitioned through the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Belvoir, he decided not to give up on biking and used it in his adaptive reconditioning.
“Hand cycling is different, because your arms are not your legs –it’s all arms and upper body. I’m pretty much limited from the chest up. It’s hard, but once I got fitted in the bike, I realized I have to get in there and keep going, because practice makes perfect,” said Martin.
He won a bronze medal for his classification in hand cycling for Team Army at this year’s Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa. Martin knew about the games before his accident but now realized he could participate. He explains why he believes the Warrior Games are important.
“Just like sports are important for kids with developing personality and growth, sports at this point for injured or handicapped individuals is the same kind of thing . . . it shapes development and helps you grow and to be the best version of you.” He has developed in the areas of indoor rowing, wheelchair rugby and air rifle.
Martin and his fellow wounded, injured or ill Service members from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Denmark, United Kingdom and the Netherlands flourished in the week of competition designed just for them.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to get it unless you’re in it. Warrior Games or any adaptive sport is really important for people to learn their new existence. Some of these people will go back and be just fine when they are done, because maybe their issue is temporary or they are being healed in some way, but most of us will not.” Martin said “we will be different somehow and the changes that we are dealing with are so dramatic that everyone responds. These games are needed.”