Martin Joppa

Para Ice Hockey

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
Acquired

Further personal information

Family
Partner Sona
Residence
Dubinné, SVK
Languages
Slovak

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He took up Para ice hockey in 2005 in Kezmarok, Slovakia.
Why this sport?
He was an ice hockey goaltender before his accident. "After the accident I was looking for sporting possibilities, and I found Para ice hockey. As soon as possible I looked into the Czech Republic, where for many years there had been a league underway."
Club / Team
SHK LAPP Zlin: Czech Republic
Name of coach
Tomas Sedlacek [club], CZE; Radoslav Bielecka [national]
Preferred position / style / stance / technique
Forward

International debut

Year
2011
Competing for
Slovakia
Opponent
Republic of Korea
Location
Vienna, AUT

General interest

Nicknames
Malicky [Little One] (sledgehokejzlin.cz, 17 Jun 2017)
Hero / Idol
Slovakian ice hockey player Jan Lasak. (sport24.pluska.sk, 09 Dec 2021)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Although I have no legs, I have hockey." (sledgehokejzlin.cz, 17 Jun 2017)
Awards and honours
He was named in the 2015/16 CPHL All-Star team in the Czech Republic. He was also the league's leading scorer that season. (hokej.cz, 22 Mar 2016)
Ambitions
To compete at the Paralympic Winter Games. (Facebook profile, 10 Mar 2017)
Impairment
In 2005 he was on a bike ride with his family when he was hit by a drunk driver in Kezmarok, Slovakia. Both his legs were amputated above the knee as a result of his injuries. "Doctors said I was saved by [playing] hockey because I had a significantly hardened chest." (sport24.pluska.sk, 09 Dec 2021; hokej.pravda.sk, 12 Nov 2019; cas.sk, 28 Nov 2012; pluska.sk, 24 Nov 2010; zivot.azet.sk, 01 Sep 2006)
Other information
OCCUPATION
He has worked with the Slovak Paralympic Committee [SPV] on a project to recruit new athletes to Para sports. "I used to be a car electrician, but at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work was declining, so I had to look for a new job. I try to help other physically impaired people get into sports. It's great that I have a job through the Slovak Paralympic Committee, they are very happy to give me time to train and participate in tournaments. As a bonus, we found some new teammates through the project." (sport24.pluska.sk, 09 Dec 2021; paralympic.org, 14 Oct 2021)

EARLY DAYS
While recovering from his accident he was visited by Slovakian ice hockey players from the National Hockey League [NHL] in North America. They donated jerseys, money and a car to him and his family, while the local council helped make the family home wheelchair accessible. Despite the support, his father struggled in the aftermath of the accident and turned to alcohol before he passed away in 2009. "He started drinking and my mother and I eventually moved to our hometown near Bardejov [Slovakia]. He died soon after. I'm trying to push this moment out of my head. When a tragedy [the accident] happens, a family's suffering either brings everyone together or completely breaks them apart. Unfortunately we experienced the latter case." (sportnet.sme.sk, 06 Dec 2021; zlinsky.denik.cz, 20 Jun 2017; cas.sk, 28 Nov 2012; pluska.sk, 24 Nov 2010)