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Scott Martlew’s road to Rio

The 2016 Paralympics in Rio will be the first time Paracanoeing has been added to the Olympic Summer Roster. Scott Martlew did everything in his power to get there, missing out by the tiniest of margins. Luckily, the Russian suspension has created a spot for Scott and we’re right behind him. Check out his inspirational story.

Scott Martlew in his New Nelo Cinco K1 Paracanoe

The tackle that took a leg

As a sporty 17 year old, Scott’s finest moment was playing an All Blacks test opener in Christchurch. He scored a great try but received a bad knock to the thigh. The resulting bruise quickly became infected and developed the flesh eating disease, necrotising fasciitis. Miraculously, surgeons saved his life – but it cost Scott his entire leg, from the hip down.

You can’t keep a good paddler down 

A surf lifesaver before the accident, the idea of getting back out on the water helped get Scott through this tough time. A friend even brought a paddle to his hospital bedside for encouragement. Just 10 months after the amputation, Scott was back paddling at South Brighton surf club, and won gold and silver at the surf lifesaving nationals at Mt Maunganui.

Taking it to the next level

Scotts new Nelo Cinco K1 ParacanoeIt was Terry from ipaddle who suggested he should give competitive paracanoeing a go. Scott found it tricky at first. “The height of the seat makes you more tippy the higher you go, so I took the seat out and sat on a towel to start with." Scott said. 

NZ Rugby Foundation has been extremely supportive of Scott’s involvement in his new sport, donating his first boat. More recently they helped to provide him with a new Nelo K1 Cinco Paracanoe to race for the 2016 Rio qualifiers. Nelo have helped him out with a new, more balanced seat. Jantex have long supported Scott with paddles; he prefers a Jantex Beta paddle.

The local Christchurch community has rallied around him, creating givealittle page to raise funds for a decent training session in Europe. In all, his supporters have helped to raise over $11,000. Great stuff.

So close yet so far 

Scott Martlew narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Rio Paralympics in the KL3 class earlier this year.

No one could accuse Scott of under not putting in the hard yards – he has been training twice a day, six days a week for almost six months. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough on the day.

He finished 4th in his KL3 Semi Final, with a time of 42.348 seconds to make the B final. Hope for qualification was still alive, with many of the A Finalists having already qualified for Rio. Scott needed to finish in the top two of the B final, and managed a close 4th.

Unfortunately I've missed my last chance to qualify for Rio. One hundredth of a second was all I needed. I'd like to thank everyone that has supported me this far, it is very much appreciated.

Scott Martlew

Racing against the World's best was never going to be easy, but he went for it anyway.

A second chance

The Russian doping scandal that plagued the 2016 Rio Olympics has a silver lining – opening a a spot in the Paracanoe racing for Martlew.

Showing his true dedication to the sport, Martlew had continued with a full training schedule despite missing out on earlier selection. This means he will fully ready to paddle hard come race day.

We wish him all the best. Stay tuned to the ipaddle blog for news of Scott's progress.



Rio Paralympics coverage on TVNZ

Scott Martlew Facebook Page

Scott Martlew Twitter

Scott Martlew Instagram

Check out this article about Scott's training schedule on the High Performance Sport NZ website


For more on Scott’s injury, recovery and training see these articles

'Scott Martlew tackles setbacks head on after freak injury' on

'Scott Martlew trains with Zac Quickenden ahead of World Paracanoe Championships' on

'Martlew leading NZ Canoe Sprint Charge' on CRNZ website