Bad luck and bad breaks had wreaked havoc on Paul Martin’s Olympic dreams. Not this time, though.
It reads like something of a tragic hockey tale: a talented defenceman eager to wear the colours of Team USA, only to be denied through a series of misfortune.
Martin, who was named to the American Olympic squad for the third time on January 1, was taken as an injury replacement in 2006 (Turin, Italy) but didn’t see any action, and missed the 2010 Games (Vancouver, Canada) because he was injured.
“I have thought about it and I still do think about everything that’s happened,” said the 32-year-old Martin, with a trace of a laugh. “I’ve always wanted to wear those red, white and blue colours, to represent my country at the Olympics. There were moments when I thought it just wasn’t meant to be.”
In February, Martin, who’ll be joined on the American blueline by Pittsburgh teammate Brooks Orpik, will get his wish, when he suits up for the U.S. entry at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
But, in order to finally compete for a gold medal at the Olympics, he’ll need to heal up from a broken tibia, an injury he suffered in a game against Boston in November.
Martin admitted the thought of another lost opportunity crossed his the mind in the hours after he was hurt.
“I remember sitting in the doctor’s office after getting x-rays and an MRI done,” recalled the native of Elk River, Minnesota. “Usually, if it’s good news, it doesn’t take long for someone to come see you. It was a long time before they came to talk to me. I knew it wasn’t good.”
Thankfully, the hard-luck rearguard received far better news to start off 2014.
“It was the best late Christmas gift ever,” joked Martin. “It’s been a rollercoaster and I had work to do before the Olympics started, but I was prepared to give it my all.”
Which makes this Olympics a truly special one for Martin.
“When I broke my tibia, I remember saying to myself, ‘Here we go again.’ But I’ve learned not to talk yourself into or out of anything. It’s just an amazing feeling.”