SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB's Ryan Martin is a two-time All-American in the 800 meters and the school's record holder in the event. In the coming weeks, Martin will represent all of America as a member of Team USA at the World University Games.
When the original U.S. men's track and field team was put together for the Games, Martin was not on the roster, but the bad luck of someone else was a stroke of luck for the reining Big West title holder in the 800.
"I'm excited," Martin said. "I found out near the end of June, it was pretty last minute."
Last minute? Finding out in June about a competition in August would seem like plenty of time. Ha, not so fast! It's not plenty of time for someone who is not used to training for a high-level competition during the summer.
"I've never raced in the middle of August and neither has my coach, coached anyone through an August race," he said. "We basically went back up in training and built up strength. We're treating it like another season. It was a great season last year and I just want to put up some great times."
Martin is thrilled about the whole experience that he will get by taking part in the Games.
"The whole package deal will be a great thing," said the Lake Forest, Calif., native. "Racing internationally, travel overseas, being part of Team USA and racing in front of a huge crowd."
He is also looking at his opportunity in China as a way to get a glimpse of what a career in track and field might look like following his graduation from UCSB.
"We're supposed to be racing in a football-sized stadium with 60,000 people and I've never been in that situation before," he said. "Hopefully I'll be running after college in a lot of these international meets and this could help the transition."
Does Martin have any feel for the competition?
"I probably won't know who I'm racing until I'm there," he said. "Here in the U.S. I know a lot of the top 800 runners so I can plan my strategy out that way, but now there's a lot more people I've never heard of. I'm just going to stick to my race plan and control how I race."
In the end, the actual competition is just one of many aspects of the trip to China that Martin sees as important.
"I'd like to run a fast time, but my ultimate goal is to try to have fun," he said. "It's a fun event, and I probably won't be able to do it, or anything like it, again in the near future. The whole goal of people who go to these events is to get medals out of it. I want to place in the finals and get a medal, whether first, second or third."
While the track and field competition will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 16, the men's 800 meter heats will be run during the morning session of competition on Friday, Aug. 19. The semifinals will be during the evening session on Saturday, Aug. 20 and the final will be on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 21.
Season tickets remain on sale for the 2011 UCSB men's and women's soccer seasons. The Gaucho men are looking to go 2K Strong in season ticket holders. For information click here, call 805-893-UCSB or drop by the Athletics Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus.