Speed Skater Rolls On

By Phil Egginton

A Lagos-based international champion speed skater is aiming to make a successful comeback to the sport.

I only recently realised that Lagos is one of the best places to be for roller skating. At Escola Julio Dantes there is a purpose-built skating track, used by the local club Roller Lagos Clube De Patinagem. Roller Lagos is acknowledged to be one of the best, if not the best, roller skating club in Portugal. One of the forms is speed skating which originates from roller skating and has track, road and indoor races.

Rochford, Essex-born but now Lagos-based Martyn Dias has won medals in speed skating at both European and World levels. I asked him how he discovered speed skating? “I came to Portugal at just a few months old and did all my schooling here. I was four years old when a cousin told my parents that a skating club was running in Lagos. Mum and dad took me to there and I had my first contact with skates. My parents always encouraged me. They never stopped me from following my ultimate dream of being a pro-athlete, even if I came home injured! They supported me in other ways too. Skating isn’t the cheapest sport to practice, from gear, to travel expenses but they were always there. I am forever grateful for all my parents put into my skating career.”

I wonder how much being in Lagos has helped his career, as it is well-known for speed skating and many national and international titles have been won by Roller Lagos athletes. “Numerous high ranked international events have taken place in Lagos and everyone loves to visit us. From four years old, Roller Lagos was my club. Their training is very good and I have had several coaches from the club. Roller Lagos’s Paulo Batista was most the important coach in my skating evolution, the knowledge in that man is incredible.”

Skating has been Martyn’s life for over 20 years. He trained for national and international titles and at 14 was a European gold medalist. At 17 he won bronze at the World Championships in China. “I have some great memories from all the worldwide travel I shared with friend and teammate Diogo Marreiros. So becoming a professional came naturally. But I could not have done it without all the support my family, club and coaches gave.”

Despite achieving success, Martyn stopped skating at the age of 26. So what prompted him to give up a sport he excelled in? “Everything is fun, but when you grow up, things change. I became a dad and skating was not paying the bills. I had to change my life and skating came to a stop. However, I am now able to organise things differently. Now is the time to get my skates on and prove that there is a fierce champion inside me! But I will need help too, so I am looking for sponsors who can help me with training, gear and travel. I also want to help promote their business and generate new opportunities for them.”

So what advice can he give to Lagos youngsters wishing to follow in his footsteps? “If you are looking for fun, speed and adrenaline, contact me and I’ll help you through your skating journey. Just be sure it’s something that makes you happy!”

Phil Egginton, who is a journalist and photographer and now lives in the Algarve.

Image courtesy of Martyn Dias



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