Martin Perry is a 22-year-old table tennis player who is ranked in the world’s top 20 for his class and is progressing towards a debut Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
He was born prematurely weighing 2lb 2oz and with only one fully formed limb, his right leg. The youngest of four brothers, he grew up playing football in the common areas of a high-rise tenement, on the streets and in the playground at Williamsburgh Primary School in Paisley, where his brothers lifted him over the wall during evenings and weekends.
Active Schools intervention
As a pupil at Gleniffer High School, Martin took advantage of a strong Active Schools structure to participate and compete in teams with able-bodied pupils of the same age. His athletic potential was spotted by Scottish Disability Sport (SDS) through local press coverage of his rugby team’s success.
Martin recalls: “Scottish Disability Sport came to the house, along with an Active Schools Coordinator who I knew, and they told me about the fantastic summer camp that they ran every year, and I immediately said no. I didn’t like being pigeon-holed as disabled and having to play sport with other disabled people.
“They told me they could find me a pathway to have a future in sport but I wasn’t interested because I thought I was good enough to play able-bodied sport.
“For the next couple of weeks the Active Schools Coordinator kept encouraging me to try it, and my family did the same, and eventually I decided to go. It was on the final day of the summer camp that I was introduced to table tennis, and that was where I met Terry McLernon and some players from the Drumchapel Table Tennis Club.”
Finding a pathway
The SDS summer camp was held at the sportscotland Inverclyde National Sports Training Centre, and it proved to be a real catalyst in the life of Martin Perry as it offered him a pathway towards a career in performance sport.
SDS supported Martin on that pathway, from providing transport to his first sessions at Drumchapel Table Tennis Club to liaising with hospital prosthetists who designed bespoke leg and arm extensions that enabled Martin to develop his game.
Drumchapel Table Tennis Club, one of the best-performing clubs in British table tennis, forms part of the Drumchapel community sports hub and both are chaired by Terry McLernon MBE, who is also President of Table Tennis Scotland.
Having become fully immersed in the British Para Table Tennis Team, Martin was promoted to the Performance Squad in early 2017. Apart from becoming Scottish and British champion his other achievements in 2016-17 included a gold medal at US Open in December 2016 and bronze in the Lignano Masters Italian Open in March 2017.
Martin claimed his first major medal at the 2017 ITTF Para World Championships where he won team bronze. He is now targeting good singles results at the 2017 European Championships and 2018 World Championships and a top-14 ranking to advance his chances of qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
Find out more
About disability sport
- Visit the SDS website
About table tennis
- Visit the Table Tennis Scotland website
About school sport and community clubs