Terror attack survivor becomes Paralympian

Associated Press Modified: August 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm •  Published: August 31, 2012
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LONDON (AP) — On the volleyball court far below her son's "Go Mummy Go" banner, Martine Wright abruptly slid on her backside across the floor.

That little burst of motion, a swift move to keep a long rally alive, was the culmination of a seven-year ordeal that began a day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

On Friday, Wright completed her transformation from Olympic fan to Paralympic athlete, sitting bemused by a scrum of reporters after playing for Britain's sitting volleyball match against Ukraine.

"All I kept thinking of that morning was, 'How the hell am I going to get tickets for this?'" Wright said, remembering back to when her hometown won the right to host the 2012 Games. "Now in a weird, weird twist of fate, destiny — whatever you want to call it — I don't need tickets. I'm actually taking part."

Wright lost her legs on July 7, 2005, when four suicide bombers inspired by Osama bin Laden detonated explosives on three London Underground trains and a bus, killing 52 commuters.

Wright shouldn't have even been on the train that day. She woke up late and took the subway into work instead of driving. After the explosion, she became trapped in the mangled metal of a disintegrated carriage.

She was the last person to be evacuated.

During her rehabilitation, she learned to play disabled sports, first wheelchair tennis before finding her niche in sitting volleyball. And on Friday, she was playing for her country in front of her 3-year-old son, Oscar, and other family and friends.

"To finally get on court, in front of my friends and family who have been such a great support, was an absolute dream come true. And a dream I never actually had before July 7," Wright said. "I suppose if people take something from my story, and my journey, then sometimes that gives me strength and inspiration."

On Friday, Wright came on as a substitute early in Britain's 25-9, 25-20, 25-14 loss to Ukraine. She'll have at least two more chances to play in the sitting volleyball tournament before the Paralympics end next weekend.

Wright told The Associated Press earlier this year that she was one of the "lucky ones" on July 7. Some may disagree.

She told an inquest into the terror attacks that she recalled a flash of light and a sensation of being thrown from side to side when the bombs went off.

She looked up, and saw one of the new sneakers she had just bought. It was bloody, blown off her foot and skewered on a piece of metal. An off-duty policewoman, Elizabeth Kenworthy, found her, wrapped her leg in a tourniquet, held her hand, moistened her lips with water. She had lost three-fourths of her blood.

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