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Sprint for glory – Paralympian hopeful has a legal background
Barrister Martin Gordon

25 Mar 2021 / people Print

Paralympian hopeful has legal background

Barrister and Paralympian hopeful Martin Gordon lost his sight at 17 due to a retina-detachment condition.

He is currently training intensively in Majorca in his bid to represent Ireland at this year’s games in August as a solo sprint para-cyclist on the velodrome.

“It's our first opportunity to get to a training camp environment since the beginning of this pandemic,” he explains.

Tandem

Martin, with his tandem pilot Eamonn Byrne, will do trials at the end of the training camp to fulfil the domestic qualification criteria to be the first sprint-bike team that Ireland has produced. 

A 1km time trial will take place on the velodrome on Saturday.

“I'm a sprinter, so my two events are the 200-metre sprint and the one-kilometre time trial, which is four laps of the track,” Martin told Gazette.ie.

On the bike, Martin powers out of the starting point “like a bullet from a gun”.

It’s a huge power-based event, with massive force and power to get close to an average speed of 60km an hour.

“I am physiologically a sprinter and I’m not built for anything beyond a kilometre,” he adds.

He lifts weights and eats a lot of protein to attain lean muscle mass for his 5’6”, 78-kilo frame.

A sixth place at the 2018 Rio world championships, less than two years after he and Eamonn decided to focus on sprinting, marked out their potential.

Backing from Sport Ireland followed in the shape of training, nutrition, physiological work, and psychology.

Progressing 

“Without that service, we would not be where we are now… that is what keeps us progressing,” Martin says.

Martin Gordon chose a legal career following a fun time as an undergraduate at NUI Galway.

He followed up with a Masters in Trinity College before graduating from the King's Inns as a Barrister-at-Law in 2010.

A conversation about his guide dog Jake led to an ongoing romance with fellow barrister Louise Byrne, with whom he now has a five-year-old daughter Nora.

Martin then practised on the Midland circuit for several years, before a move in-house, where he now works in the civil legal division with An Garda Síochána.

Martin started studying law two years after he lost his sight, but describes his transition to university life as “seamless”.

“I got to enjoy college like everybody else,” he recalls.

“I often say there is never a good time for losing your sight, but I was able to make a life choice about my education that would suit my disability,” he says.

He cites formative advice from visually-impaired explorer Mark Pollack, who told him to only surround himself with positive people.

“I have wonderful people around me and they keep me up,” he says.

Exciting life

“We live in a world of plenty, we have so much to be grateful for. I live a very exciting life, far more than I ever imagined it would be. 

“We take for granted all those luxuries,” he says, and his philosophy is not to sweat the small stuff.

“My problems don't begin, and they don't end, with my disability. My fears and anxieties are the same as everybody else’s.”

And he gives thanks for the amazing technology which enables him to do his job.

“It's a whole other world and is getting better all the time.

“We don't give enough thanks for the wonders of technology,” he concludes. 

With Tokyo 2021 fast approaching, Paralympics Ireland has recently embarked on the first phase of an ongoing fundraising campaign to better support para-athletes on their sporting journeys. 

Despite Sport Ireland funding, significant additional costs have been incurred due to COVID-19 and the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Dreams

Paralympics Ireland is asking for the support of the public to help support Ireland’s current – and future – para-athletes to achieve their dreams.  

Paralympics Ireland’s new fundraising campaign, ‘The Next Level’, aims to raise vital funds for para-athletes in Ireland and help to support Team Ireland’s journey to Tokyo 2021 and beyond. 

The campaign has raised over €70,000 to date. You can support the team now at: https://paralympics.ie.

 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland