Geelong Paralympian recognised at sport awards

Martyn Dunn representing Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympcis. (Supplied) 256577_01

Ash Bolt

Geelong Paralympian Martyn Dunn’s success on the tennis court has been recognised with a nomination as sportsperson of the year at the Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation awards.

Dunn has been named as one of two finalists for the major award, which recognised the achievements and commitment of sportspeople with disability to their chosen sport.

Dunn was nominated for his support of wheelchair tennis in Geelong and his results on the court, which saw him represent the green and gold at the Tokyo Paralympics.

He said it was a dream come true to play against the best in the world.

“It was grouse,” he said.

“Going to the Paralympics and getting on that chartered flight and then turning up in the athletes’ village, it was jaw-dropping.

“That’s the pinnacle of sport, so getting to compete there against the best players in the world … that was the Holy Grail.”

The selection to the Paralympic team came five and half years after Dunn took up the sport following a motorcycle crash that left him with a broken back and spinal damage.

“Six years ago I was in a motorcycle accident that put me in a wheelchair,” he said.

“While I was in rehab at hospital, they had a wheelchair tennis program, so I signed up.

“I had played tennis from when I was young, but I gave it up when I was around 13. I was more interested in football and played that until I was 18.

“But I gave it a go and Tennis Australia saw me and pushed me to keep going.

“I’ve been training for 5.5 years now and I never thought I’d get to the Paralympics.”

Along with his on-court success, Dunn’s nomination recognised his support for wheelchair tennis players in Geelong.

While not a formal coach, he regularly donates his time to mentor young wheelchair tennis players at the Geelong Lawn Tennis Club.

“I like to go down on Thursday nights and just have a hit with the kids and give them some tips,” he said.

“We have a few kids that are in wheelchairs and want to play tennis, so for me it’s about being like a big brother or a role model to them.

“That’s something that I find really rewarding.”

With the Paralympics now passed, Dunn’s got his eyes on the European summer tournaments.

“COVID has impacted everything … but I’m in a training block now and then I’m hoping to go play in the European summer.

“The last year and a half has been weird, I’ve planned a lot of trips to go play but a lot of them got cancelled.

“And there was supposed to be one to Israel, which was put off because of a civil war, which was surreal.

“I’m just looking forward to playing and pushing to go to Paris in 2024 [for the Paralympics] but that’s still a long way away.”

Also nominated for the sportsperson of the year award is Melbourne-based wheelchair rugby player and fellow Paralympian Ben Fawcett.

Dunn said he was surprised with the nomination.

“I’m not sure how I feel about it to be honest, you don’t do it for the awards,” he said.

“But I think it’s a reflection of how I’m going, I must be on the right track.”

The awards, described as the night of nights for the disability sporting sector in Victoria, will be held on November 23 in Melbourne.

Along with Dunn, there are two other Geelong region athletes in the running for award.

Lara wheelchair rugby player Jason Lees has been nominated for masters sportsperson of the year and gymnastics coach Kerry Woods has been nominated for coach of the year.