Skip to main content

London bombings survivor sets sights on Paralympics

By the CNN Wire Staff
Martine Wright, in ther number 7 shirt,  is aiming for the British Paralympic volleyball team in 2012.
Martine Wright, in ther number 7 shirt, is aiming for the British Paralympic volleyball team in 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The July 7 bombings in 2005 killed 56 people, including four suicide bombers
  • Martine Wright lost both legs and suffered severe arm injuries following blast on a subway train
  • Wright is now aiming for a spot on the British Paralympic volleyball team in 2012
  • Bombings came one day after London was announced as the host for the 2012 Paralympic Games

London, England (CNN) -- Stepping on the London subway train five years ago, the thirtysomething marketing manager never imagined her morning commute might eventually lead to the Paralympic Games. Now, that's exactly where Britain's Martine Wright is setting her sights.

Wright lost both legs when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a subway train near London's Aldgate station on the morning of July 7, 2005. She also suffered a fractured skull and severe arm injuries.

Though she was one of the most seriously hurt that day, Wright is now aiming for a spot on the British Paralympic volleyball team in 2012.

"I would love, absolutely love, to be part of the Paralympics in 2012," Wright told CNN affiliate ITN last month. "I mean, if you had said that to me five years ago, I would have thought that you were absolutely mad. But to go back to London, where I was born, and to do something so positive -- after I left on such a negative -- would be absolutely amazing."

Four bombs were set off that day in July, on three subway trains and a bus. Fifty-six people were killed, including the four bombers, and more than 770 were wounded.

The bombings happened the day after the International Olympic Committee announced London would be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

Wright said she made a promise to herself and her family after the attacks to "grab every single opportunity" that she could.

"I think I've done more now than what I did before," she told ITN. "I've learned to fly planes, and I've jumped out of a plane, learned to ski again."

Video: London's terror attacks remembered
Video: Renouncing radical Islam
RELATED TOPICS

She competed for -- and won -- a place on Britain's sitting volleyball squad. The British Volleyball Federation announced her place on the team last month, and this week the team is competing at the 2010 Sitting Volleyball World Championships in the U.S. state of Oklahoma.

Some 640 athletes from 20 countries are taking part in the event, the biggest major international competition before London 2012, according to Lisa Wainwright, chief executive of Volleyball England, the sport's national governing body.

John Bestebroer, the head coach of the women's team, calls the championships "a great training opportunity for 2012."

Sitting volleyball is a version of the sport that allows anyone to participate, including those with a disability. The men's event has been part of the Paralympics since 1980 and the women's since 2004, according to British Volleyball.

International volleyball rules apply in the sitting version, with certain amendments for disabled players: During play, a player must touch the court with some body part between the buttocks and the shoulders, and players are allowed to block serves. Also, sitting volleyball is played on a smaller court with a lower net.

Wright told London's Evening Standard that the 2012 Games will have an added poignancy because her last real memory before the bombings was celebrating with colleagues when London was chosen to host the Olympics.

She was the last person pulled from the station that day, and Wright said she feels she's one of the lucky ones.

"Even on your darkest days, there will always be someone that's worse than you are, unfortunately," Wright told ITN. "There were 52 people that day who were definitely worse than me, 'cause I'm still here."