Thursday 21 November 2019

Video: 7/7 survivor to achieve Paralympics games dream

Great Britain's Martine Wright (7) during the Women's Sitting Volleyball
Great Britain's Martine Wright (7) during the Women's Sitting Volleyball

HER journey began the day after London won the Olympic bid when her life was inexplicably changed for good.

Martine Wright was caught in the July 7 suicide bombings that brought terror to mainland Britain just hours after the country was celebrating the win.

Seven years later she has not only fought her way back to fitness but will for fulfil her Paralympic dream by representing her country - taking her life in a full circle.

When the announcement was made in 2005 that London had won the right to host the 2012 Games she was glued to the television.

That night she joined friends to celebrate the fact the Games were coming to London.

But the next morning she was running late for work as a marketing manager when she got caught up in the bombings and lost her legs.

Today, Wright, from Tring, Hertfordshire, will wear the number seven as she competes for ParalympicsGB in the sitting volleyball against the Ukraine at the ExCel.

Wright believes it is her destiny to compete in the Paralympic Games.

During Wednesday's opening ceremony, the 39-year-old said: "It's just absolutely amazing that I'm finally here.

"This has really got me through and when I walk through that stadium I feel like I will have come a full circle and feel so lucky."

She will be among the 21 players who make up Britain's first ever men's and women's sitting volleyball teams to compete at the Paralympics.

Wright previously spoke of her joy at being picked to compete: "I have dreamt of being part of it and now I am going there to do my country proud."

Wright was one of the last people to be pulled from the wreckage of the tube train at Aldgate. She spent 10 days in a coma, and lost both her legs.

She said she feels lucky to be alive because she was only 3ft away from one of the bombers, and 52 people were killed that day.

Doctors told her that she had lost 75% of the blood in her body and if it had not been for another passenger, off-duty police officer Elizabeth Kenworthy, who helped tie a makeshift tourniquet around one of her legs, she would not have survived.

Despite her horrific injuries Wright refused to retreat into herself. She quit her job and decided to embark on a whole new life, including the decision to compete for Great Britain at the Paralympic Games in 2012.

Wright tried a taster Paralympic day and fell in love with the team sport of sitting volleyball.

The sport is in its infancy in Britain, potentially putting ParalympicsGB at a disadvantage in comparison to their rivals, but with London 2012 on the horizon the team made a determined push to try and prove they are worth their home nation spot.

ParalympicsGB had only sent a standing volleyball team to compete at the Games before London 2012.

It has meant that an extra focus by the British Paralympic Association and Volleyball England governing bodies so the teams could meet their "credible performance" requirement before being rubber-stamped for a home nation slot.

Just a few years ago there was no sitting volleyball programme in Britain and all would-be Paralympians had been warned there would be "no free tracksuits", and they would have to earn their places on the squad.

When Volleyball England took control of the British Sitting Volleyball programme in 2009, there were just a few male players training.

Now there are men's and women's squads with players training daily with a full time coach.

Wright will realise her Paralympic Games dream when she takes her place on the court, along with her 10 team mates, at 9am today.

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