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Las Cruces Paralympian honored by city

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Aug 06 2012 08:19:49 PM CDT
Updated On: Feb 10 2014 05:19:19 PM CST

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Vina reports from our New Mexico Mobile Newsroom.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

For Letticia Martinez, 17, this summer has been one for the record books, literally. She broke American and Panamerican swimming records to qualify for the 2012 London Paralympics.

On Monday, Martinez received an honor not many teenagers can claim.

"Now, therefore, we, the mayor and the city of Las Cruces City Council do hereby proclaim today, Monday, August 6th, 2012 as Letticia Martinez Day," Mayor Ken Miyagishima said at a recognition ceremony held at city hall.

Martinez proudly accepted with a huge smile on her face, surrounded by her family.

Next week, she flies off to London to compete.

Over the past few months, Martinez has been training hard, spending more than 15 hours a week in the pool, all to swim in the big leagues.

She told ABC-7 the reality is starting to sink in after watching role models like Michael Phelps compete in the Olympic Games.

"Once I watched them, it kind of hit me that I was actually going to the Olympics, and I was going to swim in the same pool as them. I got really, really excited," Martinez said.

Martinez was born with Leber's congenital amaurosis, a hereditary disease that took her eyesight, but she hasn't let that stop her from reaching and surpassing her goals.

"First, my goal was to make it to state, but now the goal has gotten even bigger, where I would still like to go to state, but this means so much more to represent USA and try to get a gold medal versus first at state," Martinez said.

Her hometown of Las Cruces is standing behind her, publicly recognizing her with a day in her honor.

"Letticia's life philosophy is live life to the fullest, don't forget to laugh, and remember that God has a purpose for us all," Miyagishima said.

"One day, you wake up and you're not doing a sport. The next day, you wake up and you're involved, and then the next day you wake up and you're going to the Olympics, so it's weird how life takes you on big journeys," Martinez said with a smile.

Martinez will compete in five races this summer at the 2012 London Paralympics that begin on August 29.

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