Tag Archives: survivor

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

Mark Halsey twitter abuse sees man cautioned by police

Liverpool fan who abused Halsey on Twitter after United defeat cautioned by police

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UPDATED:

11:13 GMT, 28 September 2012

Abused: Halsey

Abused: Halsey

The man who posted abusive messages about referee Mark Halsey after his handling of Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend has been cautioned by the police.

Liverpool supporter, 27, John Wareing tweeted: 'I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies.'

Halsey, a cancer survivor, had reported the abuse to the police earlier this week.

DS Tony Lunt of Greater Manchester police said: 'Clearly the victim and his family were very distressed by the extremely offensive comments posted on Twitter.

'We take all reports of abuse on social networking sites very seriously as these remarks can and do have a devastating impact on people’s lives.

'As a result of our investigation, we have cautioned a man who has admitted responsibility for some of the messages.

'This individual was very apologetic and realises that in a moment of stupidity he posted deeply derogatory remarks about the victim and completely regrets his actions.

'Twitter, like all social networking sites, can be a fantastic tool for people to communicate but it must not be abused to the detriment of decent hard-working people who may be in the public eye.

'Our inquiries are ongoing to identify anyone else who posted these offensive messages.'

Lance Armstrong says he is seven-time Tour de France champion at cancer conference

I'm a seven-time Tour de France champion! Armstrong ignores title-stripping in cancer conference speech

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UPDATED:

08:08 GMT, 30 August 2012

Lance Armstrong introduced himself as a seven-time Tour de France champion while speaking at a cancer conference on Wednesday in Montreal.

The disgraced cycling star was stripped of his seven titles earlier in August after deciding to stop battling claims he was a systematic doping cheat.

Fans: Lance Armstrong still has plenty of supporters

Fans: Lance Armstrong still has plenty of supporters

'My name is Lance Armstrong. I am a cancer survivor,' he said at the start of his speech to the World Cancer Congress. 'I’m a father of five. And yes, I won the Tour de France seven times.'

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dismissed all of his competitive victories dating back to 1998 and banned him from cycling for life.

Speech: Armstrong called himself a seven-time Tour de France winner

Speech: Armstrong called himself a seven-time Tour de France winner

Armstrong, who maintains his innocence, spoke about how he survived cancer and what work his charity foundation undertakes.

He was diagnosed with cancer and given less than 40 percent chance of living in 1996 but three years later won his first Tour title at the age of 28.

Pen in hand: Armstrong signs an autograph for a fan

Pen in hand: Armstrong signs an autograph for a fan

'After I left the doctor’s office, I was grabbing every pamphlet and flyer I could off the wall,' he said. 'You know what we did after that We went to the bookstore – remember those things'

Armstrong said his foundation would not be affected by the doping scandal.

Not affected: Armstrong says his charitable work will not suffer as a result of the titles being taken

Not affected: Armstrong says his charitable work will not suffer as a result of the titles being taken

'I think the real issue here is one of distraction,' he said. 'I’m going to tell this to you all as if you’re friends and partners and allies. I’m not going to be distracted from this fight.'

He also announced that his foundation will be donating an extra $500,000 (316,000) to a joint initiative aimed at improving and increasing access to cancer care worldwide.

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in epic battle

This is going to be special… Phelps and Lochte in exciting battle just a month before London Olympics

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UPDATED:

09:11 GMT, 27 June 2012

Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte provided a mouthwatering preview of what the world can expect at the London Olympics when they engaged in an epic duel in the 200m freestyle at the US swimming trials on Tuesday night.

Although it was just a semi-final, the pair showed why they have one of the greatest rivalries in sport, battling each other stroke for stroke over the last lap.

Not quite this time: Michael Phelps after his 200m freestyle semi-final

Not quite this time: Michael Phelps after his 200m freestyle semi-final

Lochte, who beat Phelps in the 400m individual medley final on Monday night, got his hand on the wall first in one minute 46.25 seconds, but Phelps was just 0.02 seconds away.

The pair will clash again in the final on Wednesday with the top two finishers qualifying for the Olympics where they are expected to square off in at least three races before teaming up in the U.S. relays.

Another six swimmers booked their place in the powerful U.S. team on Tuesday after another exhilarating night of finals in America's midwest.
Brendan Hansen, who came out of retirement for what he called 'unfinished business', qualified for his third Olympics when he won the 100m breaststroke final in 59.68, just ahead of cancer survivor Eric Shanteau.

Rivalry: Ryan Lochte and Phelps in Omaha on Tuesday night

Rivalry: Ryan Lochte and Phelps in Omaha on Tuesday night

Dana Vollmer ended 12 years of frustration when she won the women's 100m butterfly final to book her first individual Olympic berth.

Although Vollmer competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and won a relay gold medal, the now 24-year-old had never qualified in an individual despite three previous attempts, including her first when she was just 12.

On Tuesday, however, she made up for past near-misses when she led from start to finish to win in 56.50 seconds, less than half a second outside the world record set by Sweden's Sarah Sjoestroem at the 2009 world championships in Rome.

Roy Hodgson: We"re behind officials on racism

Hodgson: We're behind officials on racism – but they need to control it

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UPDATED:

22:14 GMT, 1 June 2012

Roy Hodgson has confirmed England
would stand by any referee who decides to take teams off at Euro 2012
due to an outbreak of racial abuse.

The families of Theo Walcott and
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have already opted not to watch the Three Lions
in Ukraine this summer for fear of being targeted by racist groups.

Kick it out: Hodgson sees racism as abhorrent

Kick it out: Hodgson sees racism as abhorrent

Former England defender Sol Campbell even claimed black supporters risked 'coming home in a coffin' after viewing some horrendous footage taken by undercover TV reporters.

Euro 2012 email button

Whilst Ukraine officials have condemned the reports as scare stories, it only took the presence of Auschwitz survivor Zigi Shipper at the England team hotel in Watford last night to provide a powerful reminder of how evil racism can be.

And whilst, in the context of Euro 2012, Hodgson believes it is up to UEFA to come up with a collective decision on what would happen if players were racially abused, he would be willing to walk off should a match official order it.

'My stance is very simple: it's a matter for referees and UEFA,' he said.

Family fears: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Family fears: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

'You're talking about something that is abhorrent to anybody, not just in football, but in every walk of life.

'It's a topical question and one that I'm sure has been heavily debated in UEFA for the last four years.

'What we can do We've qualified for a football tournament and we want to play to the best of our ability.

'This very important problem has got to be taken care of outside the footballing family.

'If UEFA decide that this is what the referee will do (walk off), we will be the first people to side along with that.

'But we, as football people, shouldn't be taking the initiative.

'I want UEFA and referees to control the issue.'

Shipper delivered a powerful image of life in Nazi Germany to England's players, some of whom will visit the site of one of the worst atrocities ever known next Friday.

'It was brought home to me with great effect,' said Hodgson. 'When you listen to survivors of the holocaust, born in Poland who have a story to tell of how prejudice cost them everything but their lives.

'They happened to be two of the lucky ones.'

England's players presented Shipper with his own replica shirt after his moving presentation, which was graphic in its detail.

'I told them about babies being shot, about babies being put in gas chambers,' he said.

'The players really listened. You could have heard a pin drop.

'It was very powerful. I told the players: “You are role models, people listen to you, you must spread the message about the Holocaust”.

'Some people don't know about the Holocaust. Racism is terrible.'

London 2012 Olympics: Ben Helfgott to address England

This man will address the England squad… his story should humble the millionaires

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 30 May 2012

His clothes filthy, his eyes sunken and his body little more than skin and bones, Ben Helfgott was liberated from Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1945 weighing six stone.

Eleven years later, his muscles bulging and his face a contorted mixture of physical pain and mental strain, he lifted more than 200lb of metal above his head as the British captain of the 1956 Olympic weightlifting team.

Lining up alongside the best in the world in Melbourne, the Poland-born Jew seemed no different from any of his fellow competitors. It was, in fact, a miracle he was there at all, a miracle he was alive after six torrid years which left him scarred physically and mentally.

Surivor: Olympic weightlifter and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott

Surivor: Olympic weightlifter and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott

His story is an inspiration, one which the England football team will hear on Thursday as they prepare to fly out next week to the European Championship in Ukraine and Poland, where they will go to Auschwitz.

England are based in Krakow and will visit the site prior to their opening fixture against France — a trip organised by the FA and the Holocaust Education Trust.

The squad will sign the museum’s guest book before lighting a candle of remembrance on the train tracks at Birkenau. But first, Helfgott, now 83, and fellow survivor Zigi Shipper will tell the squad their incredible stories of how they survived the Nazi terror.

‘I was born to my mother Sara and father Moshe and we lived in Piotrkow, a town in central Poland of around 55,000 people,’ says Helfgott at his large house in Harrow, Middlesex, where he lives with his wife Arza.

‘Fifteen thousand were Jews. My father was in the flour business — life on the whole was very nice — but there was depression everywhere and it was felt in Poland, too. Those involved in agriculture couldn’t find work and this contributed to antisemitism because they said the Jews were taking their jobs. They felt there were too many and they wanted us out. I felt it as very often we were attacked by Polish boys. But life was good compared to when the Germans came.’

Medal haul: Helfgott was successful in Melbourne and Rome

Medal haul: Helfgott was successful in Melbourne and Rome

Helfgott, his parents and his two younger sisters, Mala and Lusia, lived in a nice apartment with their extended family nearby. There were 23 cousins, only three of whom would survive the war.

Like almost every boy, Helfgott was addicted to sport. ‘I was always challenging other boys who could jump the highest, run the fastest and we’d play other games. I was usually the best and was very competitive.

‘When I was about eight I read a lot and I came across a small booklet of the story of a Polish athlete, Janusz Kusocinski, who competed in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles and won the 10,000 metres. I was very interested and started challenging boys to run round the square we played in to see who would last longest.

‘I read about how Kusocinski would always keep going, no matter what, and his determination was instilled in me.’

Soon, books and sport mattered very little. In September 1939, when Helfgott was nine, the Second World War began.

‘Everything changed when the war broke out, says Helfgott, who still speaks with a strong Polish accent. Every word is considered, each memory visibly painful to re-live.

‘I was on holiday with my mother and sisters when it started. We were trying to get back home and a journey that normally took two hours, took 10 because bombs were falling. My father was back at home and was going crazy worrying about us. We got back but the following morning our town was bombed.

Proud: Helfgott representing Great Britain at the Olympic Games

Proud: Helfgott representing Great Britain at the Olympic Games

‘We ran into the woods and the planes came down very low and started shooting. What I then saw has lived with me all my life. As people were running, they lost their families. Luckily, my parents held on tight to us and we were OK. You could hear people screaming names — have you seen my son, have you seen my mother — people begging for help. The scene was unbelievable. We had a horse and a carriage and the horse was killed and the carriage was broken. So we started walking.’

The family walked for a week before returning to Piotrkow, passing one of the places where they had hidden along the way. ‘They hadn’t cleared anything up. There were bodies, legs, heads. The smell of human flesh has never left me. It was so terrible.’

The Germans soon arrived in Piotrkow and continued their plan to rid the country of Jews. ‘They went to the synagogue and burned all the holy books on the first day. Anyone who was inside and ran out into the road was shot, including the rabbi.

‘From that day, there were difficulties. All the Jews had to move into a ghetto by November 1, 1939. In an area that used to hold 5,000 people, there were now 28,000 Jews as more had arrived. In some parts there was no electricity, no water, no toilets.

‘You can imagine how difficult it was and it didn’t take long for a typhoid epidemic to break out. From time to time the Germans would come and take men who were 15 or older — or looked old enough — to work for them. Sometimes they came back, sometimes they didn’t.

Show of strength: Helfgott was a successful weightlifter for Britain

Show of strength: Helfgott was a successful weightlifter for Britain

‘/05/30/article-0-0037B16A00000258-556_233x374.jpg” width=”233″ height=”374″ alt=”Royal appointment: Helfgott with Prince Charles” class=”blkBorder” />

Royal appointment: Helfgott with Prince Charles

Moshe Helfgott was eventually killed near the end of the war. ‘They were on a death march and he tried to run away. They caught up with him and shot him like a dog. He always took great risks but it was one too many.’

At Schlieben, Helfgott, like the millions of other Jews persecuted by the Nazis, faced a daily battle to stay alive. ‘The camp was the worst place I’ve been. Hunger took over everything. Those aged between 18 and 30 were working during the day and they were the first ones to die — from hunger and exhaustion. We can’t have had more than 200 calories per day. Each morning we had a hot drink and then were given a tiny piece of bread in the evening with some jam. That was all. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. Two people slept in 2ft 6in bunks. Just on wood. We didn’t have a change of clothing for five months.

‘There were situations where brothers, fathers and sons were fighting over little pieces of bread. It taught me about how people responded under such difficult conditions. I am still very much affected by it. Whenever I see the pictures of starving children in Africa on the television, tears come to my eyes. If I can’t finish something and it has to be thrown away, I feel very guilty.’

As the Germans realised they were about to lose the war, they tried to cover up the atrocities of the Holocaust. Helfgott was sent to another camp — Theresienstadt — where he was freed on May 9, 1945.

During his time there, he clung on to life despite the devastation at learning of his father’s death. ‘Two days after the news I was liberated but I wasn’t really looking forward to it because my father was my God.’

Even now he fights back the tears talking about it. After finding out his sister was alive, Helfgott came to England. ‘I was an Anglophile from a young age. Our cutlery was made in Sheffield and my father always told me the best cloth was English.’ He put weight on, watched the 1948 London Games with delight and competed in sport, thriving at gymnastics, athletics and table tennis.

But unlike today’s Olympians, who are handpicked from the best youngsters across Britain, Helfgott took up weightlifting in less professional circumstances.

‘One day on Parliament Hill in London I saw a group of muscly men lifting weights. I asked their coach if I could have a go. It was 140lb and I hadn’t lifted weights like that before. I insisted and lifted it right above me. He was amazed and he told me to take it up.’

Family man: Helfgott with his family before the war broke out

Family man: Helfgott with his family before the war broke out

He started weightlifting regularly at a sports club and grew to love it. But his training was very different from that enjoyed by professional athletes today, with their funding and world-class facilities.

‘I could have been a wrestler but I didn’t like it because you need to hurt each other to win. With weightlifting it is you against the weights. Mind over matter. It wasn’t like now.

‘I was training around my work during the week and there were no special diets or anything like that. Weightlifting was just a part of my life. I didn’t want to be a slave to it. I didn’t want to train all the time.’

He started in 1949, competed in the Maccabiah Games a year later — almost breaking the British record — and was soon representing his country. A Commonwealth Games bronze followed his two Olympic appearances in Melbourne and Rome.

‘I finished 12th in 1956. I did break the Olympic record by 12lb but others broke it straight after. In 1960 the conditions were impossible. We had to wait too long in between lifts and it was boiling. Sweat was pouring off me. I could only do my first lift.’

Now he spends every waking hour trying to ensure a legacy, making sure people understand what happened and that it must never happen again. His mantelpiece is testament to his success in that area. There are pictures of him receiving his MBE from the Queen and meeting every prime minister from Thatcher to Cameron.

‘Sport has been great,’ he adds. ‘When you meet sportsmen, you don’t think about what colour or religion they are. It has shown me there is a way to live together.’

His story is remarkable, and inspiring. The pictures his words paint will travel in the minds of England’s players as they head to Poland.