Seven summers ago, Luis Martinez was a young person navigating unfamiliar territory in a foreign nation.
In 2013, he left Guatemala for the United States to pursue his goals of being a successful swimmer and student, and by the following fall, he had received admission to Missouri S&T. After arriving in the United States, he had heard his coaches discuss outstanding programmes, one of which might have been called Auburn or something like that; however, the Division II Miners seemed like a good spot to wait things out.
L.C. Martinez Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Martinez told the tale at the Olympic mixed zone in Tokyo. Martinez is a 26-year-old veteran of the international swimming ranks, rather than a young up-and-comer. And if the youngster who made the journey to Rolla, Missouri in 2014 could see himself now, panting heavily after the arduous effort of an Olympic final, he might find it hard to believe.
I don’t think Martinez was serious when he said that. And I would have laughed, too. My parents, at the time, were among those who did not think I had a chance of making the Olympic team. In my country, nobody comes close to giving me an A cut.
Martinez’s journey from Missouri S&T to an All-American career at Auburn to now seventh position in the world in the men’s 100 butterfly is even more impossible sounding than a Guatemalan swimmer making an Olympic final.
Martinez spent only one semester in Missouri before transferring to Auburn in the winter of 2015. Auburn, which boasts a diverse group of swimmers from all over the world, helped Martinez prepare for the 2016 Olympics, where he placed 19th in the 100-meter butterfly. He graduated with three All-American awards and top-10 marks in the 100 fly and 200 fly.
Martinez and his training companions, including fellow Olympians Santiago Grassi of Argentina and Julia Meynen of Luxembourg, hunkered down in Alabama as the COVID-19 epidemic approached in the spring of 2020 and postponed the Olympics.
Martinez, who along with Gabriela Santis was the sole Guatemalan swimmer at the Games, had a sense of camaraderie because to this core group of friends. Martinez remarked, “They become kind of lik my nation.”