Although 1992 Gunn alumnus Brian Martin is known as the track team’s assistant coach for sprinting, he spent most of his time post-graduation competing in the Winter Olympics Games for luging. Martin participated in the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games with long-time luging partner Mark Grimmette. Martin and Grimmette began luging together in the summer of 1996 after both of their doubling teams fell apart. Together, they earned a bronze medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics and a silver medal in 2002.
Martin’s drive to compete in the Olympics came at an early age. “There is nothing more exciting than to have gotten to go to four Olympics, being able to represent my country and doing well in both of them,” Martin said.
Because luging is a high-speed sport, it is one of the most dangerous events in the Winter Olympic Games. Martin knows these dangers very well, having experienced smashed hands, concussions and neck problems. “Certainly, crashing is a danger,” he said. “You’re traveling [at great speeds] so if you do crash, the friction between you and the ice is enough to give you burns.”
Despite the risks though, Martin maintained a strong passion for the sport. “My favorite part during the season was being able to go out [to Lake Placid, New York] every weekend and competing against the world’s best,” he said. “On top of that, it’s just really a lot of fun to go 85 mph on a sled.”
Martin retired after competing in the 2010 Olympics. “I retired because I was getting old, and all of those old injuries kept building up and not healing,” Martin said. Although he is no longer a professional luger, Martin is still involved with the luging community. He is on the executive board for USA Luge and acts as a representative for current lugers. “It’s a way for me to get involved,” Martin said. “I’m still involved with luge on the administrative side.”
After his retirement, Martin was asked to come to Gunn by Cross Country Varsity head coach Matt Thompkins and assistant coach Earnest Lee. He became the assistant coach for track and field. After spending time with the students, Martin has come to enjoy working with them and watching them develop in their track and field abilities. “The most fulfilling part of training young athletes is when they can take something you explained to them and put the new techniques to practice,” Martin said.
Aside from working at Gunn, Martin is also taking classes at Foothill Community College. Because Martin chose to pursue his luging career after graduation, he did not have enough time to get his undergraduate degree. He has returned to school in the hopes of gaining new knowledge and taking a step back to gain the skills needed to transition back into a more relaxed lifestyle. “Now my main goal is to settle down and get a stable job,” Martin said.
However, according to Martin, transitioning from an Olympic lifestyle to a less hectic one is nothing short of difficult. He misses his days of luging and the thrilling feeling that came along with it. However, he compromises by finding creative outlets to relieve stress by pursing activities such as sailing and recreational soccer. “Sailing is great,” Martin said. “It is extremely fulfilling to be able to go against the clock and push my limits.”
Although Martin has settled down, he is still contemplating his future. “I’ve been talking to people about transitioning from the athletic world to being back in school,” Martin said. “There are some people who I have talked to who still do not know what they want to do when they ‘grow up’. As for me, I am still a bit wishy-washy on what I want.”