DUBAI Jarrett Martin is mad about skydiving. Nothing surprising there. Being a third generation skydiver, Martin has been jumping and piloting since a very young age and has about 3,000 sky dives to his credits. But in 2009, when he was 18, his budding skydiving career was halted after a base jumping accident left him paralysed from the chest down. He suffered a broken back, a torn aorta, damaged lungs and kidneys.

The accident confined him to a wheelchair almost ended Martin’s ambition of flying high but what transpired six months later is inspirational. He was back to jumping again and recently he realised his first base jump, a lifetime achievement for any highly skilled extreme athlete.

“Heights are my passion. After my accident I had to continue doing what I love. Skydiving makes me the happiest and in a life where it is very easy to be sad I skydive often to overcome those emotions,” the 23-year-old told XPRESS.

“It was actually pretty easy,” Martin said about his quick return to action. “Despite not having use of the lower half of my body, getting comfortable in the air again was quick and simple. Within six months I was skydiving solo and the training period only took a few jumps. Even though I can’t control my legs it’s almost like they still know what they’re supposed to do in freefall.”

Martin, who works as a master rigger at Skydive Dubai, said: “Skydiving runs in my family. As soon as I was ready I was jumping. In school while my classmates were playing basketball and football, I was jumping from planes. When I was 18, I had 3,000 skydives had my instructor’s licenses and was ready to make a career out of the thing I loved the most.”

Martin is also spending a lot of time sharing his thoughts on his unconditional passion and on challenging the perception of disabled jumpers. “I’m always trying to gain new experiences and reach out to as many people as I can to share my experiences. Making my passion into a career is all I can ask for and I’ve done just that. I’m sure as we move ahead there will be something else I will strive for. But now I love my job, passion, traveling, competing in skydiving, and living a normal life.”

Talking about Dubai which is his home now, he said: “Dubai was the second country I had visited that time. So many new experiences and I feel much more cultured now. For me moving anywhere new is a challenge. Coming to Dubai and finding out what works for me and my wheelchair has been a rewarding experience.

“For five years now since becoming a skydiving instructor I’ve always wanted to come and work at Skydive Dubai. When I got injured I thought it would be impossible. But through hard work and determination, here I am,” he added.