Highlighted by the London 2012 Paralympic Games, called the greatest Games ever by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven, 2012 was a thrilling year for the Paralympic Movement in the United States and around the globe. Records were broken and legacies were made. From Dec. 20-31, USParalympics.org will unveil the Top 12 moments of 2012 for U.S. Paralympics in chronological order.
Before the men’s 200 meter (T52) qualification race at the London 2012 Paralympic Games rolled around on Sept. 8, the final day competition at Olympic Stadium, Raymond Martin was exhausted. Six days into his competition, he had already won three gold medals in three events at his first ever Games, and he still had two more races.
“I need to get a lot of rest,” Martin told reporters after winning the 400m gold on Sept. 7. “I’m just going to go back to the village, hop in the bed, get a good night’s sleep and get ready for the prelim tomorrow morning.”
Just hours after leaving the stadium with his third gold, Martin of Jersey City, N.J. returned to the track for his 10:42 a.m. qualification race. And he won, securing him a spot in the final, which was the third to last race of the program, scheduled for almost 9:30 p.m.
That night, Martin pushed through the exhaustion to beat Japan’s Ito Tomoya by more than a second. Martin raced a Paralympic record 30.25 to end the Games.
“It’s unreal,” Martin said after the race. “Getting a sweep of my class was just a pie in the sky dream coming to this Games but I had no idea I’d make it a reality.”
Four gold medals.
A sold-out stadium of 80,000 fans every night.
“It's my first Games, so I had no idea what to expect,” Martin said. “Incredible. Everything has been beyond my dreams. It's unreal. It doesn't get better than this— a sold-out Olympic stadium. Just unreal.”
Martin won every event he competed in, including Team USA’s first track and field gold of the Games in the 100-meters. Martin, who competes in the T52 class, also won gold in the 400- and 800-meters.
The 200m world record holder wasn’t surprised by his Paralympic record time of 30.25 seconds in that event, but he was shocked to win the 100-meters by beating his teammate, Paul Nitz, who has won three Paralympic gold medals in the 100.
“My first race, the 100-meters, I was only ranked third; that was absolutely my worst race,” Martin said. “My U.S. teammate and I raced together 10 times and he beat me every time. He has the world record. He was the favorite going in.
“It was a little shocking I won because I was just getting my feet wet in the whole stadium atmosphere. After that it just started rolling and I started getting momentum.”
The momentum helped him become the most golden U.S. male of the Games. He finished second in the overall medal count to swimmer Jessica Long, who won five gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in her third Paralympic Games.
“I’ve never been to the Paralympics before this but now I know I want to come back,” Martin said.
Martin, a freshman at the University of Illinois, was named the 2012 Paralympic SportsMan of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee.
Connor Nolte and Justin A. Rice contributed to this report.