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Simeon Joplin

Para canoeist an ‘absolute beast’ in the gym

Para canoeist Scott Martlew has the broad shoulders to handle the pressure in Tokyo thanks to his work in the gym with Strength and Conditioning Specialist Simeon Joplin from High Performance Sport New Zealand.

Simeon describes Scott as “an absolute beast” in the gym, taking on exceptionally high workloads. In this Paralympic cycle, much of that work has been about building the strength and size of the athlete’s shoulders.

“The nature of his event is around 40-42 seconds per race. That’s right in that lactic energy zone – quite a tough zone to train in. There’s a burning sensation of muscles, your lungs are working (hard), things are starting to seize up as the effort goes on. His ability to embrace that and just go after it is quite phenomenal.”

Simeon describes some of the things Scott does in the gym as mind boggling, as a single leg amputee from the hip.

“He might do a box jump of 1.2m high off one leg. I can’t even get half that high with two legs.”

Simeon says this Paralympic cycle has seen Scott doing a lot of paddling – more paddling of higher quality than he did in the lead up to Rio in 2016.

“As you do more paddling sometimes your strength can dissipate over time, so we have worked hard during this campaign to keep his strength really high. That’s doing things like bench press, bench pulls and chin ups particularly.”

Simeon also needed to make Scott’s shoulders a lot more robust.

“We noticed when his paddling increased, his shoulders started to take a fair brunt of the load. So, we have worked hard to strengthen those shoulders. That is the foundation of his gym programme for Tokyo – to maintain his strength and make sure his shoulders can handle the load that needs to go on.”

Simeon describes the process as building strength to manage large movements as well as finer movements, which are isolated to the shoulder itself. The rotator cuff was especially important and HPSNZ’s Amos Johnson, Scott’s Performance Physiotherapist has played a massive role in strengthening the shoulders.

“It’s about trying to build an ability to handle and produce force.”

Simeon says the team have seen some changes in the size of Scott’s shoulders, which is a reflection of the gym work and the work he has been doing with Performance Nutritionist Rebecca Cooke.

“He is extremely diligent with his work across the board and nutrition is no exception. Scotty is on point with what he needs to do.

“His gym sessions usually start at 6am with me and he is here at 5.50am almost without fail. I had to start getting here earlier myself to try and get the door open for him. That’s Scotty in a nutshell.”

Scott’s performance team have also noted a strength change in his shoulders in the gym and on the water. And having the ability to tolerate loads has meant that he can deliver more higher intensity efforts on water more frequently than in the past.

“Maintaining strength has allowed him to have a higher run speed (top speed) in the boat. His starts have been stronger and faster and his run speed is really good as well. He can maintain a higher top speed for longer.”

“Hopefully we’ll see that in Tokyo. He can maintain higher intensity for longer and that is where we are hoping we will see a performance shift in Tokyo.”

Simeon concedes Tokyo will be different for Scott, who would usually head to Europe to train and compete before a big event so would have a clear idea of where he sits in relation to the competition.

“When he lines up in Tokyo, I know how much work he has put in. He has just put so much into this. It will be a nervous day, without really knowing where he sits but I know he will do his absolute best.”