by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Jim Martinez is the only Osseo High School athlete to win an Olympic medal when he earned a bronze medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games in wrestling. Many years have passed but one thing has not changed. Martinez is still experiencing success in wrestling.
Martinez, who grew up in Osseo, is now residing in Chandler, Ariz., where he is the head wrestling coach at Tempe Corona del Sol High School. He has coached the team to one state championship and is trying to earn his second state title.
“We have a strong team this year and will be competitive in our state championships this February,” Martinez said.
Winning championship is nothing new for Martinez ever since he emerged onto the scene with Osseo wrestling. He enjoyed a great career at Osseo and culminated his high school career by winning the state championship in 1977. He went on to wrestle at the University of Minnesota and excelled, taking third in the NCAA’s in 1979 and 1983.
After college, Martinez set his sight on the Olympics and made the U. S. wrestling team after surviving a tough qualifying tournament. Then it’s on to Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics. Martinez battled against the world’s best wrestlers and won a bronze medal. Looking back, Martinez realized that he gained more than just a medal with his Olympic experience.
“Wrestling and the Olympic Games changed my life for the better,” he said. “I never thought I would be able to travel the world to compete. I think I have visited at least 17 different countries for competitions. It was only because of the opportunities that were provided through the Olympics that I have been able to share my experiences and wrestling knowledge with so many people.”
Martinez went on to earn a bronze medal in the 1985 World Championships. After that, he gradually settled into coaching and began a successful career. In addition to coaching at the high school level, he was the head coach for the Cadet Pan American Greco Roman wrestling team that won the team gold medal in the Pan American Championships last year. He was awarded the 2012 Developmental Coach of the year for USA Wrestling.
Martinez was married in 1996 and started a family with wife Pam in Chandler.
“We have 28-year-old triplets that make it a great family and we have two grand children,” Martinez said. “I miss all my family and friends back in Minnesota. However, I don’t miss the cold or snow.”
Martinez is glad that wrestling is reinstated into the 2020 Olympics Games after being dropped by the International Olympic Committee earlier last year. For him, the Olympic Games is personal and carries special meaning.
“The Olympic Games was a long time ago,” Martinez said. “However, every four years, those memories come flooding back as I watch those exciting 16 days of competition.”
Contact Bob San at [email protected]