Tag Archives: bombings

Martine Wright and Olympic Games legacy extinguished by funding cuts to sitting volleyball, says Lisa Wainwright

Funding cut to sitting volleyball has wiped out legacy of 7/7 survivor Wright and the Games, claims sport's chief Wainwright

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 18 December 2012

UK Sport's decision not to fund sitting volleyball for the next Paralympic cycle has 'extinguished' any legacy left by London 2012 and the likes of 7/7 bombings survivor Martine Wright, according to Volleyball England's Lisa Wainwright.

The UK's high performance sports agency today announced how a record pot of 347million would be distributed in the run-up to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

It has been decided sitting volleyball will not be getting a chunk of the pie, just two days after Wright was honoured at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

Waste of time: Lisa Wainwright indicated that the legacy forged by the Games and Martine Wright (pictured) was being wasted

Waste of time: Lisa Wainwright indicated that the legacy forged by the Games and Martine Wright (pictured) was being wasted

Wright, a sitting volleyball player who lost both legs in the 2005 attacks on London, gave a moving speech at the ExCeL on Sunday as winner of the Helen Rollason Award for 'outstanding achievement in the face of adversity', but Wainwright believes any legacy left from London 2012 has now disappeared.

'Today's funding announcement is so disappointing for all the athletes, staff and the sitting volleyball programme who have made such significant progress given their previous funding of less than 5k each for all training, competition and support,' she said.

'The investment requested from UK Sport was less than 500k per year per squad over the next four years.

'Everyone will have seen the impact sitting volleyball can have on people with the winner of the BBC's Helen Rollason Award, Martine Wright a survivor of the 7/7 London bombings.

Furious: Lisa Wainwright says the sport will need to refocus now

Furious: Lisa Wainwright says the sport will need to refocus now

'When we speak of legacy remember this day, the flame has well and truly been extinguished.

'The sport will now refocus over the new year and start the process of looking for additional funding from sponsors and donors.

'As ever, we remain focused on increasing the awareness of the sport at all levels. We thank all the players, coaches and support staff that have supported the programmes and look forward to working with them in the future.'

Only yesterday things had looked much rosier for the sport after Sport England announced its volleyball funding.

Following that announcement, Wright took to Twitter to say: 'Great news 5 million for grassroots volleyball which is fab, sitting volleyball back on the map where it counts! Decision Tom 4 elite level.'

PARALYMPIC FUNDING: 2013-2017

Winners

Adaptive rowing 3.5million (up from 2.3million) – one medal in London (hit target)

Boccia 3m (up from 2.3m) – one medal (hit target)

Disability athletics 10.7m (up from 6.7m) – 29 medals (hit target)

Disability sailing 2.8m (up from 1.7m) – two medals (hit target)

Disability shooting 3.3m (up from 2.1m) – three medals (surpassed target)

Disability table tennis 2.7m (up from 1.7m) – four medals (hit target)

Five-a-side football 1.3m – n/a

Goalball 1m women only (up from 0.5m) – no medals (hit performance target)

Judo (visually impaired)* 2m (up from 1.3m) – two medals (hit target)

Para-canoe* 2.3m – n/a

Para-cycling 6.7m (up from 4.2m) – 22 medals (hit target)

Para-equestrian dressage 3.8m (3.6m) – 11 medals (surpassed target)

Para-triathlon* 2.2m – N/A

Wheelchair basketball 5.4m (up from 4.5m) – no medals (missed target)

Wheelchair rugby 3m (up from 2.4m) – no medals (hit performance target)

Wheelchair tennis 1.9m (up from 0.8m) – two medals (hit target)

Losers

Disability archery 2m (down from 2.1m) – two medals (missed target)

Disability swimming 10.4m (down from 11.8m) – 39 medals (missed target)

Powerlifting 0.8m (down from 1.1m) – one medal (hit target)

Sitting volleyball – zero funding (down from 0.8m) – no medals (missed performance target)

Wheelchair fencing – zero funding (down from 0.6m) – no medals (missed performance target)

*denotes one-year award, with indicative four-year figure

London 2012 Olympics: One journey from 7/7 bombings to Paralympics

Wright set to complete amazing journey from 7/7 agony to Paralympics

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UPDATED:

09:28 GMT, 22 March 2012

Martine Wright was running late for work. Staying out to celebrate London winning the 2012 Olympics had caused her to oversleep.

In the underground, she didn't reach her usual car, which dropped her off nearest to her exit. Instead, she jumped onto a closer one just as the door closed. Moments later, chaos.

A white light flashed and she felt herself being thrown. An off-duty policewoman found Wright in the wreckage and held her hand. Wright looked up. She saw a trainer; it had been blown off her foot and skewered on a piece of metal.

Horror: The 7/7 bombings in London killed more than 50 commuters

Horror: The 7/7 bombings in London killed more than 50 commuters

The marketing manager lost both legs on the morning of July 7, 2005, in the bombings that killed 52 commuters and all four suicide bombers. She was in a coma for 10 days. Her body was swollen to twice its normal size. Her brother and sister saw her in the hospital; they told the police it wasn't her.

Seven years later, Martine Wright is a full-time athlete. Her goal: this summer's Paralympics.

Martine remembers her mother holding her face, telling her she could have died or been brain damaged. But that didn't happen.

Wright, 39, learned to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs. She learned how to fly. She did a sky diving jump for charity. She got married to her long-time boyfriend, Nick Wiltshire.

Competitive: Martine Wright lost both legs in the bombings but will now compete for Great Britain this summer

Competitive: Martine Wright lost both legs in the bombings but is set to compete for Great Britain

But somehow, moving on required something more. She needed a goal. Always athletic – she had played field hockey at university – she looked to sports.

'I wanted to feel that competitiveness I used to feel at work – that sort of hunger for success,' she said.

She tried wheelchair tennis, but dropped it because she doesn't like wheelchairs. The relatively new sport of sitting volleyball caught her eye. Imagine regular volleyball, but with a lower net and the players with their backsides on the floor. That's sitting volleyball.

Wright jokes that the courts gleam after games.

It was at gyms like one at West London's Roehampton University, where the team trains, that Wright found camaraderie. Where else can an athlete walk in and toss her fake legs against a wall, like galoshes piled up after children come in from the snow

On a recent day, team-mates goofed around throwing balls at Martine's head while she chatted on the sidelines with a reporter. They support one another even as they fight for their place on the squad.

'They're all fighters really,' said team captain Andrea Green. And team-mates. And friends.

London's organizers make a point of giving attention to the Paralympics, which take place from August 29 until September 9.

Queen Elizabeth II will open the Paralympics as well as the Olympics, a reflection of the nation's interest in offering equitable treatment to Paralympians.

But it isn't just about attention. As the host nation, London was able to automatically qualify to send a team. But the British Paralympic Association had worries about the sitting volleyball team, which was relatively inexperienced.

The association was determined that the team rise to the competition, to be able to take to the court with powerhouses like China and hold its own. The association gave the team an ultimatum in the autumn. They had to up their game, or they would not send a team to the Paralympics.

Clock is ticking: Britain is gearing up for this summer's extravaganza

Clock is ticking: Britain is gearing up for this summer's sporting extravaganza

Penny Briscoe, the performance director for the British Paralympic Association, said the organization was determined to make sure they were ready, focused and gelling as a unit. Home team berth or no, the team was going to have to be good enough to compete against the best.

'It is about inspiring a nation of potential athletes who want to come and play,' Briscoe said, explaining the tough line. 'It is also to do with integrity. There are no free tracksuits for a Paralympics GB athlete.'

The association ruled last week that the team will compete. But now there will be a decision on who should play. That goes for Wright as well.

Despite being one of the more high-profile survivors of the July attacks and becoming an unflinching ambassador for the sport, Wright will not get a free pass. She must earn her place like any of the other players.

Equal billing: The Paralympics follow the Olympics in London this summer

Equal billing: The Paralympics follow the Olympics in London this summer

'If you said to me seven years ago, look Martine, you're going to be going to one of the biggest shows on earth – London 2012… I would think you're absolutely mad,' she said.

'But I'm riding the wave. Who knows what the future can hold But what I've got to do now is keep training and make sure I get selected.'

If she does, she will wear No 7, the date that the bomb went off – moments after she sat down, looked at the Olympics story in the newspaper and wondered how she might get tickets.

Wright doesn't feel angry. She feels lucky. So many died, and so many relatives lost loved ones. The fact that she's tied to the Olympics and the Paralympics by a weird twist of fate is not simply a matter of coincidence – she says it is a reflection that things were meant to be this way.

And somehow, competing is already real. She can envision the opening ceremony. She wants her husband there, her parents and her son, Oscar, who she hopes will hold a sign reading 'Mummy'.

'There is good that comes out of bad,' she said.