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Scott Martlew: Embracing the Journey to Paris 2024 ParaLYMPICS

Scott Martlew is no stranger to the journey towards the Paralympics. His selection for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games is a milestone which marks his third appearance at the Games, a testament to his dedication and resilience.


“It’s pretty surreal – I obviously dedicate a lot of my life to my sport journey and it really is these moments which make it all worth it,” shared.Martlew, who is competing in both the KL2 200m and VL3 200m events in Paris. “Each opportunity to compete on the international stage is vindication for the hard work and sacrifice on a personal level, and a huge achievement professionally to further my own experience, and the visibility of the sport and my fellow para athletes.”


Martlew’s journey to becoming a Paralympian has been remarkable. As a teenager, he lost his leg after a rugby injury led to a bacterial infection that nearly claimed his life. Ten months after having his leg amputated, Martlew was back competing at the surf lifesaving nationals in the same four-person canoe team he had raced with the year prior. Remarkably, they collected a number of medals again.


Scott Martew- Rio 2016 Paralympics

In 2016, Martlew became the first New Zealander to compete in Para canoe at the Paralympic Games when he represented New Zealand in the KL3 class in Rio de Janeiro. Martlew made it into the final of the event but ultimately came up short in his bid for a medal. He has a string of impressive world championship performances, including a silver medal at the 2018 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, a bronze medal at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, and a bronze medal at the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint and Para Canoe World Championships. In late 2018, he was reclassified into the KL2 division – for athletes with a more severe disability.


Martlew’s journey to Paris was cemented at the 2023 World Championships in Germany, where he achieved an A final spot and finished 4th, securing a slot for New Zealand at the Paralympics. “Coming 4th is always a mixed feeling, but the goal of World Championships was to qualify a boat for the Paralympics, so it was a relief to secure that spot, but it was bittersweet to not be on the podium,” he reflected. “Overall, having that qualification locked in has meant that my preparation this year has been geared towards Paris as my pinnacle event to build up to, and meant far less stress going into the May World Champs regatta in Szeged earlier this year.”


Reflecting on his growth from Rio 2016 to Tokyo 2020 and now Paris 2024, Martlew feels he has gained invaluable wisdom and experience. “The key difference from 2016 to 2020 in a technical sense was to be reclassified from the KL3 to KL2 category which is more in line with my ability,” he explained. “Outside of that, each year brings more wisdom and experience technically, and also more confidence in myself and what type of training suits me the best. My technical support crew has really built over the years too, so I have a great team behind me to further my training and review different elements of my sessions.”


Scott added a World Championship Bronze Medal to his collection in 2022, his third World Championship medal

The path to Paris has not been without its challenges and triumphs. “Sport is such a rollercoaster. Missing out on the podium is always tough, but I’ve become good at working through those low points and focusing on where to next,” Martlew said. “Qualifying for Paris is a high point – it’ll be awesome to have a ‘true’ Paralympics experience. After my late call-up to Rio and the COVID restrictions of Tokyo, I’m really looking forward to being in that Games environment.”


In preparation for Paris 2024, Martlew’s training regimen remains rigorous. “My build-up has been much the same as other years going into a pinnacle event, but I’ve been fortunate to pull back on the work hours (I work 30 hours a week at Downer, alongside my paddling commitments) since World Champs at the end of May which has allowed me to have a bit more rest, and more time for team meetings,” he revealed. “I train twice every day except Sunday (rest day), doing a mixture of gym and on-water sessions.”


As an experienced Paralympian, Martlew offers sage advice to first-time athletes. “My advice to a first-time athlete at the Games would be to enjoy it, and do your best not to be overwhelmed by the size of the event – go out and perform to your best ability, as you have in training many times before,” he advised. “I’m most looking forward to getting to race in front of my fiancée, and my family. It’ll be the most key supporters I’ve had at a key event, and it’ll be amazing to have them in the audience and there for me, rather than watching through the TV at home.”


Martlew’s support team plays a crucial role in his journey. “My key support team at home are my family and my fiancée Sophie, and our dog Indie. I’m lucky to live within a 10-minute drive of my two brothers and their families, and my parents which is great,” he shared. “They keep me going after big weeks of training, keep me driven, help me to have a laugh when I need it, and make sure I’m well looked after.”


Reflecting on his love for the sport, Martlew’s passion is evident. “I initially got into kayaking for the social aspect, and for cross training for other sports I was doing at the time. Aside from the pressure and excitement of competitions, that’s what it comes down to for me – I’ve paddled with a lot of great mates over the years, and it’s given me opportunities to travel and stay fit for about 15 years now. I also really enjoy the feeling after a good session when you feel like everything is coming together and are feeling fast, lean, and strong.”


Scott Martlew’s journey to Paris 2024 is a blend of perseverance, passion, and a commitment to excellence. We wish him all the best as he prepares for his third Paralympic Games.

Follow Scott and the New Zealand canoe sprint and Paracanoe team on their Paddle to Paris



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