Q & A Martin Perry - Para Table Tennis Champion

Q & A Martin Perry - Para Table Tennis Champion

Martin appeared on our radar during lockdown. Which lockdown - we're not sure, the last year has been a little bit of a blur! We first came across a video of Martin in action around the beginning of July, announcing his partnership with Athlete Media group in which the full extent of his Table Tennis prowess is shown in a dizzying rally on the tabletop. Martin has a condition known as Congenital Limb Loss & Deformity, which meant he was born with just one formed limb (his right leg) and this rousing display of athleticism had us gripped on the content he was throwing out on his Table Tennis journey.
But eventually restrictions allowed for athletes to resume training and this is where  Martins path intersected with ours, finally some fresh content while the rest of us were still locked up! Already having been on a trip to Slovenia, and spending some time in Sheffield this year he is now back to training at the Drumchapel Table Tennis Club, where his journey began...
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I was born in Paisley, and am the youngest of four boys. Growing up was carnage as I’m sure you can imagine haha! The four of us had fun though, it was a very energetic household and we played a lot of sports together. Once I got older I found table tennis and have become the Scottish & British Champion, US Open Champion, 2x European Team Champion, World Team Championships bronze medalist, I’ve won over 50 international medals representing Great Britain and I’ve been ranked in the top 25 in the world for over 4 years now. 
Table Tennis seems pretty niche, have you always done it or was it a gradual progression? 
Very niche sport indeed! I played table tennis for the first time at a Scottish Disability Sport summer camp when I was 16. I had no idea what I was doing and could barely hold the bat. I had fun though, a lot of fun. I was encouraged to go my local club in Drumchapel and I’ve never looked back. I can’t imagine my life without table tennis now. I’ve been able to travel the world, see and do incredible things and meet wonderful people. That wouldn’t have happened without table tennis and Drumchapel table tennis club. 

Any particular influencial people? 

In table tennis a big influence for me is my first coach Terry. He’s always been supportive and believed in me every step of the way. My wife Siobhain is super supportive too, which is great. I’m on the road so much and we don’t get to spend as much time together as we’d like to but she’s always encouraging me and understands the goals I’m chasing. 

We’ve been following you for a while. You’re always off somewhere awesome! How was 2020 / Lockdown for you? 

It was really tough in the beginning. I had so much energy that I was used to throwing into 5 hours of training a day and all of a sudden I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. I quickly looked on the bright-side though.  My wife was working from home and we had just moved into our new flat, so it was great doing all the little projects in the flat and spending a lot of time together because usually we’re apart. After I think 4 months we, as athletes, got exemptions to train and it was strange because we had stopped for so long but the team felt more solid than ever. We had calls and home workouts every week on Zoom and when we all got back in the training hall together we were all just so happy to be back. 

What’s an average week like for you? 

Tiring! Standard training week is Monday to Friday, 8 training sessions, 2 strength & conditioning sessions, bike sessions, meetings with staff (coaches, physios, sport psychologist). On the weekend I like a bit of active rest, so a walk in the park is usually on the cards and after that I’ll put my feet up and watch the rugby or football, maybe play a bit too much PS4 too. 

You're a seriously decorated athlete - any titles in particular stand out? What advice would you give to those who want to follow in your footsteps? 

2x European Team Champion. It was great to win alongside my teammates and to be a part of such a successful team is amazing. My advice would be to work hard, listen to your coaches and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

Any big obstacles in the early days? 

In the beginning I just had no idea how to play and then obviously my disability made things challenging, but as I started to get better the biggest barrier was financing it all. It’s really difficult trying to train, eat, compete and live as a full-time athlete and I really struggled in the beginning. 

Long term goals? 

Paralympic Champion. That’s the main goal, but I also want to inspire and motivate people along the way. I have such a striking and obvious disability and I want to help people. I want to show them that if I can chase my dreams and be successful with no hands and only one leg then they can do whatever they want to do.  With over 50 international medals under his belt we're confident Martins dreams of becoming Paralympic Champion are imminent, watch this space!

You’re a pretty determined and motivated guy, do you do any coaching/ speaking or mentoring for people in sport? 

I do motivational speaking at corporate events and also coach at Drumchapel when I have the time outside of training. I find it’s a great way to give back. People have helped me everyday of my life and on every continent too. Ultimately I just want to help people in return and I believe I can do that by sharing my story and help motivate people to achieve their own dreams and aspirations. 

Sport plays such a big part in your life, how do you spend your free time? 

I’ve married into a rugby family, and I’ve really gotten into it so I spend a lot of time watching Glasgow Warriors, but I guess that’s not an interest outside of sport haha. I’m a big Marvel MCU & Harry Potter fan, so I watch a lot of those movies and tv shows. I also love rollercoasters and can’t wait to get back out to Florida to go to Universal Studios, but Siobhain is always telling me “We can holiday somewhere else you know?” So I guess when we can travel again I’m going to be disappointed haha. Maybe it's time Siobhain gets her way - at least you've been able to travel a little Martin!!

Sport has taken you around the globe, how does Glasgow stack up? 

It’s the best. Glasgow has so much to offer and has something for everyone. I love the people in Glasgow, the friendliness, the patter. Just everything about the city is great. I always end up with a big smile on my face, when I’ve been away from home for a while training and competing and I come home to be greeted with ‘Awright big man, how ye doing?’ It just makes me happy hearing the accent.  

Thoughts on our humble brand? 

It says “quality goods” on the shirts for a reason. It’s a great brand that is really immersed in the city and it’s history, I love that. I love how much the community and past of Glasgow influences the designs and styles of the clothes. I think if you take a look at the Instagram page you really get a sense of what Glasgow means to Finnieston Clothing. 

What a guy! We'll keep you up to date with Martins journey but if in the meantime you fancy finding out a little more follow the links below!

Follow Martin's journey:

Instagram: @perry94

Facebook: @MartinPerryTT