A PARABADMINTON player from Potten End has added the European singles and doubles titles to his British and Four Nations crowns.
Competing at the 2012 European Parabadminton Championships in Dortmund, Martin Rooke, from Hedgeside, saw off competition from the top players in the continent to secure the victories – helping England to win more gold medals than any other nation at the event.
Martin, who only started playing badminton 20 months ago, was competing in the WH2 (wheelchair) category, and secured the doubles victory alongside England team-mate Gobi Ranganthan.
The close friends and bitter rivals then went head-to-head in the final of the men’s singles competition and, after 46 minutes of intense competition, Martin prevailed 21-15, 16-21, 21-17.
“I was really pleased,” said Martin. “It was only my second international and I wasn’t sure what sort of people I would be up against.”
“It was a great experience in a great venue and, of course, it is a great honour to represent England.”
Martin started playing parabadminton in 2010, after an accident on May 17 2006 changed his life forever.
“A building collapsed and I punctured my spinal chord and broke my back,” said Martin.
“Now I cant really walk very far and I’m pretty much wheelchair-bound.”
Since his accident, Martin – a former gymnast and Tring Athletic football player – has tried his hand at a number of different sports, but found an instant love for badminton.
“I play a lot of basketball and was asked to go along and give badminton a go and I loved it – I like the one-on-one competitive nature of the game,” he said.
“I’m physically very fit, strong minded and agile. I’ve only lost one competition in the 20 months I’ve been playing.”
Not one to rest on his talent alone, however, Martin admits his success is built on a structured foundation of training.
“The more success I have, the harder I train,” he said. “I train four or five times a week, at Sportspace, as well as at Champneys in Tring and at the Herts Sports Village.”
“I’d like to thanks to Champneys owner Steven Purdew, in particular, for letting me use their facilities.”
Next up for Martin is next year’s Parabadminton World Championships, and he is hoping to secure sponsorship to help with travel costs.
“We’ve just started to get some sponsorship from Badminton England but it’s not a great amount,” he said. “I don’t want to make money out of it, I just want to play badminton and get as far as I can.”
To contact Martin about sponsorship, email email@example.com