Born with no hands and one leg due to a condition known as congenital limb loss and deformity, Martin Perry knew he would have to face additional obstacles in life, especially if he wanted to chase his ultimate dream of competing in the Paralympics. As part of our Empower Hour series, we look at how physical challenges can mean nothing when the mind is already made up.
Luckily for Martin, being born into a highly competitive family – and growing up with brothers who bestowed him no special treatment – allowed Martin to cultivate a relentless drive to be the best in his sport of choice, while leveraging setbacks to build extraordinary resilience.
“For me, resilience and problem-solving skills go hand-in-hand because that naturally comes from my childhood,” Martin says. “There is no one in my family with a disability and there was no one I knew growing up that had a disability, that you could see, anyway. So, there was no one to tell me how to do things, teach me how to walk, how to get dressed, how to brush my teeth. There were no guidelines, no rulebook. From day one, I became a problem-solver – I had to. Otherwise, I wasn’t going to do anything. I trained my mind to never feel sorry for myself. I often tell people the best thing that happened to me was being born with no hands and one leg, because of the opportunities I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been to – it’s been tremendous!”
Find your sweet spot
After witnessing the British Paralympic team win two medals at the London 2012 games, Martin instantly knew he’d found his calling. Finding himself in awe of the incredible skills and talent of the British team – and inspired by the reception they received from the crowds – Martin dedicated himself entirely to table tennis and set out on a mission to become a professional athlete in his field. In 2015, his persistence paid off and his dream came true. He received an invite to train full-time with the British Paralympic table tennis team.
Don’t let tough times put you in a spin
Today, Martin credits his family environment and the highly competitive personalities of his brothers for physically and mentally preparing him to one day become a professional athlete.
“They put me in situations where they would have the upper hand and that made me more determined to become the victor. I’d also make sure I’d rub their noses in it! They treated me like one of the boys but that energy spent running around made me who I am now.”
Which is how, when the news came that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics had been delayed due to COVID-19, Martin was able to flip the situation on its head by viewing it as an opportunity to re-evaluate his thought process and use the extra time to get even better at his sport.
Discover more about Martin’s incredible journey plus tips from him on determination and chasing your dreams, on Tictrac.
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