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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Olympics in the blood Olympics in the blood (June 05, 2002)

Palo Alto native relives glory of Nagano, Salt Lake City'

by Kyla Farrell

"Y ou're walking through the tunnel, all you can see is colors and lights and then you walk into the stadium and the sound is deafening," said Brian Martin, describing his experience at the Olympic Games' opening ceremony in Salt Lake City.

"That's the whole thing about the Olympics -- it gets in your blood and then you can't get rid of it," he said.

Martin, a Palo Alto native, has Olympic blood. He won a silver medal in luge at the Salt Lake City Games in February and a bronze medal in the luge at the 18th Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, the first medal ever won by an American team in that particular sport. Raised in Palo Alto, Martin graduated from Gunn High School in 1992.

How does someone from Palo Alto, with its mild winters, become a world-class expert at sliding on ice? Martin got his start at a luging clinic on Sand Hill Road, roaring down the asphalt hills on a luge attached to wheels instead of blades. Each year the U.S. luge team travels around the country recruiting future lugers at one-day youth clinics. Local youth are invited to attend, and those that seem like they have a knack for the sport have the opportunity to attend a more extensive luge camp. Although you wouldn't guess it, it's "almost a luging hotbed here in Palo Alto," said Martin.

The difference in the color of his medal isn't the only thing that made the Salt Lake City games better than Nagano for Martin. "Having the Olympics at home is more special, everyone is really excited for you because you're American. Americans cheer for everybody."

Martin is very excited about the possibility of bringing the 2012 Olympics to the Bay Area. He feels it will be a great opportunity for people from all over the world to experience the Bay Area. In return, the Bay Area will get to experience the world.

"It's part of the fun of it, people are everywhere. It's part of the atmosphere. You meet new and interesting people and it's exciting," he said.

"It would be great to be on the other side of the fence and be welcoming athletes of the world."

The Bay Area's diversity also makes it a perfect Olympic spot, said Martin. Or, more specifically, every nation "will have their own cheering section here."

As for his own Olympic achievements? "It's great. You've accomplished a dream. Training takes a long time and a lot of hard work, but it's what I want to be doing," said Martin. "For us athletes, the real reward is being able to compete."

Martin said the Salt Lake City games "were the best part of my life so far, which is a lot to say about what was essentially a long weekend in Salt Lake City." Hopefully, having the games right here in Palo Alto will be even better.

E-mail Kyla Farrell at


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