After being dragged to a basketball come-and-try day back in 2014, despite having no interest in sport, it’s hard to believe that in just seven impressive years, Issy Martin has progressed to playing ball with the big league, named Basketball Victoria’s Wheelchair Athlete of the Year for 2020. Her latest challenge? This year’s Tokyo Paralympic Games!
Ahead of the big dance, we caught up with the Monash Nutritional Sciences graduate and current Masters of Dietetics student to find out how she’s gearing up for this significant stage in her professional sporting career and how she’s coping mentally with Melbourne’s unrelenting lockdowns.
To start, tell me all about your experience making it to the Paralympics? The highs, the lows? How was the process? What was it like finding out you’d qualified?
Finding out I’d been selected was surreal! I honestly didn’t expect it at all, and had barely let myself hope for it. It’s been a really long 18 months of uncertainty and I’ve felt like I’ve been in limbo for a lot of it. When the coaches told me I’d been selected it was a mixture of shock, relief, and excitement.
How long have you been playing wheelchair basketball for and how did you get into the sport?
I started playing in 2014. My mum forced me to go to a come-and-try day even though I had no interest in playing sport. I ended up really enjoying the day and in 2015 I started taking it a bit more seriously.
How is your training going? What does an average week of training look like to you? Has lockdown affected any of this?
Luckily we’ve been able to train through lockdown, however COVID-19 has really disrupted our lead into the games — we’ve had about 10 changes of plans and unfortunately the VIC and NSW athletes were unable to get into Perth for the final training camp. We’ve just had to go with the flow and focus on the things we can control.
How are you feeling in the lead up to the Games?
I’m excited! Although part of me knows that the Games could still be cancelled. I don’t think I’ll really believe it’s happening until we’re on the plane.
It is my understanding the Paralympics will be held without spectators. How will you gear yourselves up without a crowd? Do you often rely on audience support?
It’s a bit strange to think about, but I think watching the Olympics has shown me that all the things we love about sport don’t depend on there being a crowd.
How are you juggling your sporting career and your studies simultaneously?
It’s definitely a challenge. Time management has always been a weakness of mine and I have a tendency to let things pile up. But sport and uni are both huge priorities to me and I really want to push myself in the next few months to stay on top of things!
We wish you all the best of luck Issy, and can’t wait to cheer you on at the Games!
Click here to find out more about Issy and when you’ll be able to catch her on the big screen.