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Las Cruces teen headed to London 2012 Paralympics

By Vanessa de la Viña, vanessa@kvia.com
Published On: Jun 27 2012 08:32:43 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 17 2014 03:33:00 PM CST

ABC-7's Vanessa de la Vi?a reports.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -

A Las Cruces High School senior is going for the gold this summer.

Letticia Martinez, 16, qualified for the 2012 London Paralympics.

Martinez told ABC-7 she spends her life in the water.

"When I was a freshman, I tried out and I absolutely loved it. I was not good at it at all. I could barely get across the pool doing strokes," Martinez said.

Now, Martinez is breaking national swimming records and is training for the big games.

"I'm so glad I didn't let anybody tell me I couldn't do it, because of course there's people that come across you in your path that will try to tell you that you can't do it," Martinez said.

She was born with Leber's congenital amaurosis, a hereditary disease that made her lose her eyesight.

Martinez said it's brought plenty of challenges in her swimming career. She had to train herself with a pole that indicated the end of the lane so she would not hit her head on the wall. She also swims right along the lane barriers so she knows she is swimming straight.

She has not let any of those challenges stop her from achieving her dreams.

"You're always going to have problems. Mine are just a little different than everybody else's," Martinez said.

Martinez spends about 18 hours a week training with her coach and her team.

At the Paralympics trials in Bismarck, N.D., Martinez broke one American and one Pan-Am record.

Her parents hope she will take the gold this summer.

"She's done it in a short period of time, so you realize if she continues to swim, in the next Olympics, all I can say is, 'Look out world,'" her father, Steve Martinez, told ABC-7.

For now, Letticia Martinez said she's training hard and following a strict diet so she can make her parents proud when she competes in London in August.

"If you want something, nobody can hold you back from it except yourself, so it's OK to dream big," Letticia Martinez said.

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Paralympic Games will be held Aug. 29.

Letticia Martinez said she still can't believe she's actually going, and the reality probably won't hit her until she's there in London.

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