The Edmond Sun

December 3, 2007

A world class marriage

Top Paralympic athletes live, train together

Justin Martino

EDMOND — Roderick and Katrin Green met each other in a situation out of a movie: Roderick, an American citizen, and Katrin, a German citizen, were both in Athens. The now-married couple met because they kept running into each other � literally.

�I was doing my starts, and he was constantly running into my lane,� Katrin said. �So I asked him to get out my lane.�

�I was in my lane,� Roderick said, shaking his head. �You just got confused and put your blocks in the wrong lane.�

So perhaps it wasn�t the most conventional of meetings, but Roderick and Katrin aren�t a conventional couple. Both are world-class amputee track and field athletes, and were in Athens to compete in the 2004 Paralympic Games.

After the games, the two went their separate ways: Roderick back to the states, and Katrin to backpack through Australia. They didn't let the distance keep them apart, though.

�We kept in phone contact and e-mail contact. We talked on the phone pretty much every day,� Katrin said before pausing and laughing. �More than once a day, usually, which really got expensive.�

From there, Katrin came to Oklahoma City to see Roderick and visit with him and his family. The original plan was to stay a week, but by her third day Katrin decided to stay longer.

�I postponed my flight until the end of February, and at the end of February I decided that morning, I had my bags packed and all, that I wasn't going to the airport.�

Since then, the two have lived and trained together, as well as continuing with their jobs and school. Roderick works mornings as a youth mentor at the Mid-Del Youth and Family Center, and Katrin is a full-time student at the University of Central Oklahoma, taking summer classes and 18 hours a semester to complete her nursing major and Spanish minor.

Training together

�We�re definitely different than a normal couple,� Katrin said. �Our habits are just way more directed toward track and field. Before we had curtains, we had a weight room.�

Being married also has some benefits on their training, Roderick said.

�You�re there with the person and you can discuss it then. As a coach and an athlete myself, she can give me feedback and I can give her feedback right then, right there or in the car on the way home,� he said. �With another athlete you�d have to wait and maybe forget or leave something out.�

Of course, there are downsides as well.

�She brings stuff home from the track that most people would leave at the track,� Roderick said, looking at his wife and laughing. �If you have differences with a teammate or something is wrong with a teammate, you leave it there. Now it comes home.�

Katrin said her running has improved considerably since they started training together because they see each other so much.

�Roderick sees me, he lives with me, he knows if I�m not feeling well today,� she said. �So he adjusts my training so that the training is still efficient, but it doesn't wear me out.�

That�s very different from her training in Germany, she said, where her coach had each person on the track and field team do the same workout every day.

Their training also just gives them a shared interest and a ritual they do together.

�It�s a nice consistency for us also as a couple,� Katrin said. �It�s something we just do together, it�s something we both want to do and it�s like a commitment for us. That�s the time we meet on the track and we�re just being disciplined and it�s a consistency during the day, no matter what else happens.�

Living together

Katrin calls it a work in progress: A picture taken at the airport in Germany, showing only their clasped hands and wedding rings. Surrounding the picture inside the frames are both words and mementos from their life together, including one of Katrin�s hairbands from when they met.

�He insisted on keeping it, and it was one of my hairbands that I was wearing in my hair, and he had it on his wrist until it was totally huge and couldn't fit his wrist or my hair anymore,� she said. �He just kept it until I came back to America. So I put it in there.

�I want to add more and more things of what�s defining our relationship,� she added. �This is just the beginning of what connected us.�

Over time, the two have discovered more and more things that connect them. They have a shared interest in the arts � Roderick enjoys writing poetry, and Katrin enjoys drawing.

�I haven�t done a lot recently because there�s so much other stuff going on, but I love that,� she said.

The two also discovered they complement each other in their personal life as well as on the track.

�That�s our whole relationship,� Katrin said. �We complement each other perfectly. He likes to cook, I don�t so much, so he�s the one cooking. I do cleaning up, I don�t mind it, so I�m doing the cleaning up.

�I like gardening stuff with flowers, and he does the mowing yard stuff. In every part of our relationship, it�s perfect.�

The two have the same goal outside of competitions as well. Roderick said his attitudes shifted after losing several members of his family.

�Sports are fun to do and they�re great, but they�re not the most important thing,� he said. �You need to focus on family and have fun with your family. You�ll still have time to train three hours a day, and if it comes, it comes to you, and if not, it�s fine.�

And despite their busy schedules, they also manage to find time to go out at nights, go dancing at clubs and basically do what every couple enjoys: Be together.

�Yeah, we fight, we nag,� Katrin said with a grin. �But we play also.�

(Justin Martino may be reached via e-mail at