Wheeling her way to success

Isabel Martin has been awarded the 2020 Charles Ryan Wheelchair Athlete of the Year award. Picture: SUPPLIED.

By Mikayla van Loon

As someone who was never interested in sport, Isabel Martin, 22, has been making headway in the Victorian and Australian basketball scene as Basketball Victoria’s Wheelchair Athlete of the Year for 2020.

Not knowing she had been nominated for the award, Ms Martin said it came as a surprise.

“It was really cool. It was unexpected and I guess in 2020, it was a hard year, there was a lot of work but not really any gain.

“We weren’t playing and we weren’t having tournaments and everything was being cancelled and you were still expected to be training and working in lockdown so it was nice to be recognised.”

Ms Martin said even though she wasn’t able to play last year, to still be recognised was an honour.

“It was definitely a hard year and the fact that we weren’t playing and no end in sight really, it was mentally hard to keep going and looking back I’m proud of that, so it does mean a lot,” she said.

Ms Martin played with the Kilsyth Cobras’ WNWBL team for a number of years but unfortunately, believed to be due to a lack of funding, the wheelchair basketball team was cut last year.

Having been pushed by her mum in 2014 to attend a basketball ‘come and try day’, Ms Martin said from that day on she really enjoyed the sport.

“It was something that I needed to be pushed to do and she knew it would benefit me in the end.”

By 2015 Ms Martin was involved in the state basketball program and went to her first tournament with the Victorian team.

“That was a really good learning opportunity and I’ve just loved it ever since,” she said.

Setting her goals even higher, by the end of 2016 Ms Martin was training and playing in friendly games with the Australian Gliders.

Now she has her hopes set on being selected for the 2021 Paralympic team.

“Since I started basketball, I’ve been looking at the Australian Gliders as the ultimate goal and it was so exciting to be involved with them for the first time,” Ms Martin said.

“I think the paralympics is the pinnacle and so it’s exciting to even just be considered for selection regardless of whichever way it goes.”

All being well with Covid-19 restrictions, Ms Martin said a selection camp for the Australian Gliders team will happen in three weeks.

Grateful for all the support and guidance her coach has given her, as well as everyone else who has believed in her, Ms Martin said she just wants to make those people proud.

“It’s a really great community and all the people at Basketball Victoria and everyone working to give wheelchair basketball a platform and give opportunities to players, I’m very grateful to them and it has been a good program to be a part of.”