Fil-Am paralympian lauded in Jersey City

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Dec 26 2012 04:47 PM | Updated as of Dec 27 2012 04:21 PM

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - Following his explosive performance at the summer Paralympic Games in London earlier this year, Filipino-American Paralympic gold medalist Raymond Martin received a special citation from the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders in Jersey City, New Jersey Thursday.

“It means a lot, I grew up here, I was born here, so to be recognized by the Freeholders is pretty awesome,” Martin said.

The Hudson County Freeholders recognized Martin for his extraordinary achievements this past year: four Olympic gold medals in the 100, 200, 400 and 800-meter wheelchair track races.

He is also the current world record holder in his class in the 200 meters and the American record holder in the 400 and 800 meters.

“The first gold was the hardest one to win,” Martin said. “After the first one it got a little bit easier after every medal, I got a little bit more confident in my athletic ability.”

Martin was also named the Paralympic Sportsman of the Year by the US Olympic Committee and was nominated as Best Male Athlete with a Disability in ESPN’s ESPY Awards.

Martin was born with a disorder known as arthrogyrposis, a congenital joint deformity that restricts his movement. But that did not stop him from chasing his Olympic dreams.

Chairperson of Hudson County Board of Freeholders Euli Rivera said, “No matter whether you have disability or not, nothing is impossible.”

School Superintendent Frank Gargiulo said, “He continues what he’s doing, keeps his hope alive, keeps his vision alive, he can accomplish every single thing he wants, because he’s that kind of a kid.”

“The moment I met him, I was just like, wow, here’s a student, an athlete, scholar, that just had the drive to do it, if he has the drive to do it, we’re going to do everything at the school of technology to make it happen. And we did,” said Linda Quentzel, Executive Director of the Hudson County School of Technology.

Martin is currently studying kinesiology at the University of Illinois to become an occupational therapist so that he could help others like him and show them that anything is possible.

He said all these would not have been possible without the support he received from his parents and from his community.

Raymond’s mother April Martin said, “Sa akin that’s the only way na makakabayad tayo sa mga nakatulong na sa atin, kung natulungan ka ng iba, yung itinulong sa akin, hindi ko man naitulong sa nakatulong sa akin, sa iba naman na nangangailangan.”

Martin recently completed the Chicago Marathon last October that qualified him for the Boston Marathon in 2013.

He is also setting his sights for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Brazil.