Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rosco - Australian Champion

Everyone, Australian, American (and the rest of the eventing world) knows Boyd Martin. Everyone knows his strength of character, his competitiveness and his 'never say never' attitude. At the moment that strength of character and attitude are being tested by the death of one of the driving forces behind these traits, his father Ross Martin. In Australia the term champion isn't thrown around willy nilly, it's reserved for those who prove they have beyond normal reserves of energy and strength. Ross was just such a man. From competing in the Olympics to running a thriving business, to competing in road races, to competing in open ocean swims, to learning how to ride, to raising a strong, loving family; he was a true champion in every sense of the word. His athletic achievements are many and varied and all awesome but I wanted to use this blog to remember the man I've known for well over a third of my life. The time from his accident to his passing were blessedly short but the shock that such a man could actually leave us will stay around for a long time. The pain was so unexpected and real it took my breath away, and I like to think that I've seen enough by this stage to not be shaken easily. I can't remember the actual day I met Ross because as soon as I did I felt as though I'd know him from day dot. I know it would have been when I first started working for Boyd and it would have been in Lochinvar. One of my earlier memories that stands out clear as it had happened yesterday was stacking hay with Ross. As a working student I can tell you this is one of the most dreaded tasks and one to be avoided at all costs. It's hot, the hay is itchy and after the 200th bale your arms hurt. After the 300th bale you beg for mercy! This particular day Boyd was somewhere else (teaching or otherwise working) so it was left to Rosco and I to unload the trailer of hay that we'd baled the night before. Ross was more inclined to talk about his children than his own achievements but as we unloaded the hay I learnt about his Olympic career, his bike riding, his horse riding and his world travels. To begin with I thought he may be exaggerating, how could one person do so many things? So I did some background research (asked Toy, Boyd's mum) and confirmed it was all true and more! Therefore I developed a strong respect right from the beginning.

As I said, Ross was more about his kids than himself. He was always the guy at the events taking photos of everyone he knew. He was the guy standing by the side of the ring watching his kids proudly claiming them as his own whether they were first, second, last or fell off at the 12th fence. I remember my first CCI 3 star, he was there as always armed with his camera. After I fell off in the water and Danny ran away, he was there to pat me on the back and tell me well done for getting as far as the water! He was also the one to, for the next 10 years, tell everyone he introduced me to, the story of my terrible language sitting in the water in front of the crowd! And that my poor mum had driven 14 hours to see such a display! I can't believe I've heard his retelling of that story for the last time.

It's hard to regret the loss of a life so well lived, but the suddenness of his death and the energy he still had every day make it seriously painful for anyone who knew him. Knowing that the normal 'well done, Katie' or 'your name will be in lights soon' won't follow him reading this blog, is more upsetting than I thought it could be. And that there won't be anymore Ross Martin emails turning up in my inbox makes me not even want to check my emails. From stacking hay back in that boiling hot barn in Lochinvar to randomly running into him at an airport in America, I will cherish every moment and everything I learnt from Ross Martin. It's also important to remember Kevin Bloody Wilson (Australian comedian) also lost his biggest fan. Who will buy his cd's now?

To Toy, Boyd and Brooke. I'm so sorry. You are lucky to have each other. And your husband and dad meant so much to so many people, yet you were always his focus.

Bye Ross. (If you happen to run into my Nanna, can you tell her that I'm sorry I forgot her birthday so many times.)


marg said...

He would enjoy your story, Kate!

amy said...

Wow, I feel like I've just gotten to know a wonderful man and a life well lived. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Boyd and his Mom during this difficult time.

PS Although I never met Rosco, my guess is that he is now up in heaven telling everyone that story of you falling in the water with Danny...

Sam said...

Well said Kate. I met Ross once at a Pub in Melbourne for dinner at a 3DE - I guess about 9 years ago now. He sat at our table in a big group including Megan Jones, the Irvine-Browns and others. Bruce and I were totally entranced by Ross, his antics, his stories - he was so funny! I don't think anyone could meet Ross and not think he was fabulous. Very sad to hear of his passing.

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