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Wildcats ace drops weight for longevity

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It must feel like every day is dreaded leg day for Damian Martin but the Perth Wildcats skipper is embracing the challenge as he attempts to keep Father Time at bay.

Martin has shed the kilos in a bid to overcome the calf and knee issues that have bothered him in recent years.

The 35-year-old remains one of the best defensive players in the NBL but he will face an ongoing battle with Mitch Norton for a starting berth this season.

Martin is embracing the fight and is eager to squeeze every last drop out of his battle-weary body to play the game he loves so dearly.

But with that comes extra leg pain in the gym.

"I've worked a lot harder in the gym than I've ever had to before with my lower body strength," Martin said.

"I've had to trim down and lose a bit of weight to put less pressure in my joints in my old leg.

"Last year I was playing around the 90, 91kg. This year I'll play around 88.5kg.

"Every day I have to do calf work in the gym and I do a lot more legs than I was accustomed to.

"I had a few injuries with my knees prior to that and really went backwards with my leg strength.

"But our conditioning coach has been brilliant, as has been the physio.

"We've set some new goals and it seems to be working."

Martin is a big admirer of Norton.

But it doesn't mean he's going to give the 26-year-old a place in the starting five without a fight.

"I've loved the off-season Mitch Norton has had," Martin said.

"I'd like to think that he has the goal of being the starting point guard for the team, as do I.

"It's a good healthy competition.

"If he accepted being a bench player I wouldn't like that.

"As long as we keep pushing each other, the team benefits."

The Wildcats begin their title defence with a grand final re-match against Melbourne United at Perth Arena on Saturday.