Class of 1985
Roy “Robot” Martin has one of the coolest nicknames of any all-time great track and field athlete. He had developed a running style as a youngster that led to his Dallas Roosevelt HS (TX) teammates bestowing that upon him. Of course, it’s even better of your racing credentials are even cooler than your nickname and, in the mid-1980s, the Texan electrified the track and field world with spectacular performances and a national prep record that took 31 years to break.
As a Roosevelt sophomore in 1983, Martin blasted 10.62 for 100 meters and 21.00 for 200 – times that most seniors would be proud of. He also clocked a wind-aided 20.28 in the 200 and captured his first Texas UIL title in that event. As good as he was, Martin wasn’t necessarily on the mind of Olympic prognosticators for the 1984 Games in L.A., but as a junior he drove his 100m down to 10.32 (10.18w) and hit 20.28 for 200 – this time wind-legal and #2 all-time HS behind Dwayne Evans. At 17, he qualified easily for the Trials and then stunned everyone by taking 4th in the 200 final behind Carl Lewis, Kirk Baptiste and Thomas Jefferson – he was only passed for 3rd in the final strides.
In 1985, “Robot” was even better and at his senior year UIL state meet he became a young legend with his legal 20.13 200m – a national prep standard not broken until Noah Lyles ran 20.09 at the 2016 Olympic Trials (where he was 4th). He was also the prep leader for ’85 in the 100 with a legal 10.18 (#2 all-time) and anchored Roosevelt to 4x1 and 4x4 relay marks of 40.28 and 3:09.4. In both his junior and senior years, as he was #5 and #3 in the world 200 rankings respectively, Martin earned the Track and Field News HS Boys Athlete of the Year – the first 2-time winner.
Martin went on to SMU, where as a frosh he had a 43.5-second 4x400 anchor that helped the Mustangs win the 1986 NCAA title. He didn’t stay there, but later connected with Coach Bob Kersee and made the 1988 Olympic team in the 200 – where he made the semifinals before finishing sixth. He had a career best of 20.05.
Did You Know?
Multiple world-record setter and 4-time Olympic Gold Medalist Michael Johnson, who competed against Martin in high school, said this of him years later: “You knew first place was gone. You tried to beat out the other guys for second.”