Story Number: NNS140626-13Release Date: 6/26/2014 2:24:00 PM
By Penny Randall, Naval Air Station Meridian Public Affairs
NAVAL AIR STATION MERIDIAN, Miss. (NNS) -- Rodney Martin may hold the title of U.S. Olympian, but he is now referred to as U.S. Navy Seaman Rodney Martin - a title he says is just as special.
Martin, 31, was a member of the 4x100 relay team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and earned a gold medal in track and field at the 2007 World Championships.
Martin, who calls Las Vegas home, holds a bachelor's degree in criminology from the University of South Carolina. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in February 2014, after boot camp he arrived at Naval Technical Training Center on board Naval Air Station Meridian to learn his job specialty.
"Most of the student population here is 18 years old, so I'm ancient - I'm a nerd," Martin said. "I love the yeoman rating. I got the highest GPA in the class. The instructors did a great job presenting the information. I'm confident know that when I get to the fleet I will know my job."
Martin's next step is to attend submarine school and begin paperwork for the All Navy Sports Team.
"I am equally proud of Martin's accomplishments on the athletic field as his commitment to our nation and Navy," said Cmdr. Robert Stockton, commanding officer of Naval Technical Training Center Meridian. "He is the embodiment of our core values, truly believes in being a part of something bigger than himself and represents the finest our nation has to offer."
Martin said he did his research before deciding on which branch of the service to join.
"My family is big on the military, but it's the Army that my father and grandfather served in. The Navy's ethos of Honor, Courage and Commitment really spoke to me - especially commitment. It takes a lot of commitment to reach the Olympics and the Navy is big on commitment."
Martin was recently asked to participate in the opening cermoney of the State Games of Mississippi. He took the stage with two other Olympian who are Mississippi natives. George Wilson earned a gold medal in basketball in the 1964 Tokyo games and Midrette Netter ran the third leg of the U.S.'s 4x100 women's relay team that won a gold medal in 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
"It was such an honor to stand along side two great Olympians," Martin said. "I did not earn a medal my year, but I'm extremely proud to have had the chance to reach the Olympics."
Martin said there is no greater pleasure for him than to be able to give back to his country, one that has given him so many opportunities.
In fact, his goal is to once again step onto the field with the U.S. All-Navy Sports Team.
"It's a time to pave another path for myself - the Navy offers a wealth of opportunities and I want to take advantage of them," Martin said. "I'm looking at the 2016 Olympics. It was disappointed to not earn a medal in 2008. I ran the first lead, but two guys dropped the baton and it costs us the medal."
Martin's fifth-place 100m finish at the 2008 Olympic trials placed him in the 4x100m relay pool for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Martin set personal bests in 2008 in the 100 meters (9.95).
An estimated 5,000 people packed downtown Meridian for the opening ceremonies June 20.
"The age range of the athletics was shocking," Martin said. "Kids came up to me wanted high-fives and to take photos with me. I told them all to keep up the hard work...athletics can take you far. It took me to the Olympics, paid for my college and gave me many, many opportunities to travel the world. But I also want to tell the athletes to have fun with it. I took my career very seriously - the way I ate, the way I trained - I missed out on activities in my youth. You can still have a normal life and be a great athlete. I know God gave me a gift, I can naturally run faster than most people. I don't think I realized it when I was young. Now I embrace it and hopefully I can do more great things with the All Navy Sports Team."
For more news from Naval Air Station Meridian, visit www.navy.mil/local/nasmeridian/.