Lancashire teenager to guide 2018 Paralmpics hopeful

DOWNHILL DREAM: UCLan student Matthew Martin, 19, with 16-year-old visually impaired skier Menna Fitzpatrick.
DOWNHILL DREAM: UCLan student Matthew Martin, 19, with 16-year-old visually impaired skier Menna Fitzpatrick.
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A talented skier has pushed his own dreams aside to help a disabled teenager reach the 2018 Winter Paralympics.

Ski racer Matthew Martin is a member of England’s Artificial Slope Squad but after a recent trip to Austria he decided to help Menna Fitzpatrick pursue her Olympic ambitions.

Menna is a member of the British Disabled Ski Team and University of Central Lancashire student Matthew is the 16-year-old visually impaired skier’s guide.

And the kind-hearted 19-year-old revealed he just wants to share his passion for the sport.

He said: “I feel privileged to actually help and ski alongside Menna – who is a very talented skier.

“My dreams of skiing of reaching the top level on my own are over and so I want to help someone else achieve their dreams.”

Matthew, who lives in Preston but is originally from Bury, has been skiing since the age of four and met Menna whilst they were both training for their club, Manchester Ski Racing, at the Chill Factore.

He said: “Menna can’t see out of her left eye and can only see 60 per cent out of her right. So a guide skis either in front or behind her in close proximity to help guide her down the slope – I’ve just taken over as her guide this summer, it used to be her dad.

“In 2011 I started getting interested in coaching because I wanted to share my knowledge with the next generation. I’m so happy to help Menna.”

And Matthew is looking forward to the duo starting their journey to the South Korean Winter Paralympics when they compete in their first competitive race in Holland this weekend.

He said: “This weekend will be the first time that we get to ski together in a competition.

“I’m looking forward to it but at the same time I’ve got some nerves. We can really figure out what we are like together.

“We have a three-year-plan, we are aiming to get from the European races to the World races and then from that level we can really step it up and aim for the Winter Olympics.”

Matthew is in his second year of a STFC in Policing course at UCLan and he praised the university for supporting his ski dream.

He said: “UCLan have been really supportive. I’ve been in for chats with my course leader, Robert Helm.

“I keep them up to date and they give me the time and encouragement to try to help Menna reach her skiing dream.”