Andrew Martin, Junior sportsman of the year

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
There are an awful lot of boxes in Andrew Martin's front room. All of them are labelled by year - and all of them contain medals.

Recently voted junior sportsman of the year by the London Sports Forum, Andrew, 18, is a BTec sport and exercise science student at Orpington college. He is an international athlete in running, volleyball, football and swimming, a swimming pool lifeguard, and a qualified and practising coach in football, trampolining and badminton. He is also 4 foot 7 inches tall.

With a haul of seven golds from the 2005 dwarf games in France - for athletics, volleyball and football, in which he captains Britain's senior team - as well as a badminton silver, Andrew was almost guaranteed this year's Sports Forum award.

His international sporting career began in 1997, when he was selected to run for England in the second world dwarf games, in Peterborough. But he was born into a sporting family - his dad was a motorbike and sidecar racer - and has long competed through the mainstream schools he attended and outside.

"People did occasionally say to me when I was younger, 'You can't do that,'" he says, "but it was easily sorted out and I just got on with it."

His family found out about the organisation Dwarf Athletics (he is the first of his size in his family) and they put him in touch with local clubs where he could train, which he does five times a week.

He also coaches a disability trampolining class. "There are certain moves we can't do in trampolining because we might damage the spine, but otherwise we can do any sport except rugby," he explains.

Since he was 16, Andrew has been a lifeguard at Eltham college's leisure pool. "I've partly supported myself financially through college by doing it. I trained with people who were taller than me and had more weight than me, but I found techniques to deal with rescuing them if I needed to and it was no problem - though I've never had to use it for real so far."

He hopes to go to university to study sports science once his BTec National finishes, and then to work in disability sport. "Because of the situation I'm in, I can show that people with disabilities can compete at a top level, and do something that I love," he says.

Interviews by Karen Gold

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