Iowa State counselor selected for Track and Field World Championships in Greece

AMES, Iowa -- When track and field athletes from around the world converge on Athens, Greece, this Sept. 16-17 for the world championships, they will have a Cyclone with them.

But this Iowa Stater won't be competing in any events. In fact, he isn't even a student.

Marty Martinez, a psychologist with Iowa State's Student Counseling Service, has been named to the U.S. Track and Field team as a sports psychologist.

"I'm really looking forward to it," said Martinez. "It's going to be the elite of the elite. In many ways, it's better than the Olympics, because the Olympics take three or four athletes per country per event. The World Cup takes only the best of the best."

Many of the athletes Martinez will be working with will qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

Sports psychologists work with athletes to get them mentally prepared and in the right frame of mind to compete.

The games this summer, officially known as The International Association of Athletics Federations World Cup, will be Martinez' chance to do for the U.S. team what he has been doing successfully here at Iowa State for 18 years contribute to athletic success.

Martinez says success and winning are two different things. In fact, Martinez rarely talks about winning: "Winning isn't something you can control," he says. "Really, you can't even control the score. What you can control is performance.

"And the more you can control performance, the more likely you're going to be successful.

"It's a matter of getting your natural energy working for you, rather than against you," he said.

Martinez is slow to claim credit for the successes of the athletes he works with, no matter how much they insist he should get some praise. One of the most successful athletes in amateur athletic history believes Martinez helped him a great deal.

"I spent a lot of time with Marty during my NCAA career and before the Olympics," said Cael Sanderson, four-time NCAA wrestling champion and Olympic gold medalist. "Marty is a tremendous asset to the Iowa State Athletic Department."