Interview with Jarrett Martin, Recipient of the 2015 Breitling Youngster Award

2015 FAI Awards Ceremony 22Jarrett Martin, 24, was born in Seattle, USA (pictured left with balloonist Brian Jones). He currently works as a promoter at Skydive Dubai. He was awarded the 2015 Breitling Youngster Award at the 2015 FAI Awards Ceremony in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

In August 2009, at the age 18, Jarrett Martin suffered a paragliding accident and lay in a hospital bed, his body badly torn and spine severed, paralysed from the chest down. Few thought he would live, let alone become a serious parachuting competitor and an inspiration for people with disabilities around the world. Showing amazing courage and determination, Jarrett was back in the air within six months of his accident, and two years later, he began his competitive quest at the 2011 U.S. National Parachuting Championships. He has since taken part in numerous major national and international competitions. He is the only skydiver who uses a wheelchair to have participated in an FAI World Championship, which he did in August 2014 as a member of the U.S. Parachute Team. He also competed in the 2014 Dubai International Parachuting Championships and more recently, the 2015 Dolomite Cup in Belluno, Italy. He has become an inspiration and role model, not just for those who aspire to take part in air sports, but for disabled and wheelchair-bound people everywhere.

The Breitling Youngster Award is reserved for a youngster who, during the previous 12 months and before the date of his 26th birthday:

  • Achieved an outstanding sporting performance. This means a performance which is considered by the nominating authority as beyond the normal level of performance compared to what can usually be done, or
  • Excelled in a certain area of his sport and is considered as a reference, or
  • Significantly contributed to the development and promotion of aeronautics or astronautics.

What does it mean to you to receive the Breitling Youngster Award?

Jarrett Martin: It means a great deal to get this recognition for the award. My family has been involved in skydiving for decades and as a 3 generation skydiver it means so much to me and my family. I've endured a lot, and worked hard for myself but this award is for my friends and family who have helped me along the way.

Where do you get your extraordinary energy and will-power?

I get my energy and will power from my family and friends. Without them I could not achieve as much. They help me both physically and mentally. From getting me out of dark depressing times to physically lifting me up so I can enjoy life and do the things I've always wanted to do.

What has been your greatest parachuting moment?

Greatest skydiving moment was when I competed at the 2013 Dubai International Parachuting Championship. I've always wanted to travel and skydive. I was the first junior competitor for the us team and to be able to travel and compete in Dubai was a dream come true. Now I get to skydive there all the time.

What message would you want to give to other young people with disabilities?

My message is that you can do anything that you put your mind to. It sounds cliche but look at me as an example. Never before did I think I would be a skydiving competitor/ base jumper/ pilot in a wheelchair. But through hard work, determination, and a lot of help anything and everything is possible.

What dream do you still hope to achieve?

I would like to push myself into other avenues of disabled sports. I'm now experienced in lots of different disciplines in aviation. I would like to learn other sports, water and snow skiing for example.

More pictures here.