Martine Wright: 'Sport has given me confidence again and a whole new dream: London 2012'

After surviving the 7/7 bombings, she has rebuilt her life with the goal of a home Games

Every so often as she tells her story, Martine Wright glances over her left shoulder at a large projector screen. The image is a little fuzzy but there can be no mistaking it; the Olympic Stadium with its already distinctive A-frame floodlights. It's a structure that bookends her story.

It was on 6 July 2005 that London was awarded the Olympic – and Paralympic – Games. That evening Wright, a Londoner to her core having been "born in the sound of Bow Bells", celebrated with her colleagues. When she returned home she made the first of a series of small decisions that were to have huge consequences. "I went home not that late but late enough and as a result decided to set my alarm for the next morning 20 minutes later than usual," says Wright. She is sitting in a wheelchair at the University of Bath on the eve of a training camp at the British Paralympic Association's sporting base.

"Meeting people like this at events like this shows that one can never underestimate the power of sport," says Wright. The Paralympics are a year away and the 39-year-old is on course to be there, a member of the British sitting volleyball team.

This is how she comes to be here. "It was a normal July day," she says. "I got to Old Street and the Northern Line was down – signal failure. So I thought shall I get a bus or shall I stay on and get the Circle Line? I hated getting the Circle Line and used to try and avoid it. But I stayed on. I got to Moorgate, ran up the escalator and there was a Tube just coming in. I thought 'result'. I got into one of the front carriages as they were right there – again that was something I didn't usually do. I normally got on in the middle.

"I sat down and started reading my paper. It was full of the Olympics and I was thinking I must get tickets. Then there was this white flash. The weird thing was it didn't feel like a milli-second – I remember looking at this white light and thinking 'what's going on?' It's odd that you can think that, say that in your head in a split second.

"Then the flash went away and suddenly we were in this devastated, black environment. I had a bit of metal sticking into my legs here [she points at where her legs end halfway down her thighs]. I looked up and my new white trainer was up above me, stuck on a mangled piece of metal. There was blood all over it. I thought 'how's my trainer up there and I'm down here?' There were screams everywhere. And then the screams began stopping. You can draw your conclusions why."

Wright was trapped in the wreckage outside Aldgate Tube station for an hour and 10 minutes. People further away from the bomber died, but her life was saved by Liz Kenworthy, an off-duty policewoman. "I never ever thought I was going to die. Never. I had no idea the injuries I had sustained were so bad. I can only remember bits of it. I don't remember the pain but I remember the miracle. Liz came down the carriage and she had a choice to make – who was she going to help? Thank God she helped me. She gave me a tourniquet. It felt like something out of a western – I remember watching westerns as a kid and someone would tie a belt round their leg. [Later] a paramedic injected me with something. I thought I passed out but I didn't. Apparently I was screaming with pain as they cut me out. I think your brain can't take any more once it gets to a certain point.

"I was taken to the Royal London [hospital]. I had no ID on me. My family spent nearly 48 hours trying to find me. I was missing – I can't imagine what they went through. My dad, a taxi driver, was scouring the London hospitals. I woke up 10 days later and a nurse told me I'd lost my legs and that was the start of the realisation of what happened."

She spent a year in hospital, overcoming the injury and learning to walk on prosthetics. "Coming out of hospital was a huge thing," says Wright, who has since married her boyfriend, Nick, and moved out to Hertfordshire. They have a two-year-old, Oscar. And there were other signs of recovery. "I began to feel that ambition again that I used to feel at work so I went to a Paralympic potential day at Stoke Mandeville and fell in love with sitting volleyball."

The Paralympic Games traces its roots to Stoke Mandeville hospital in the aftermath of the Second World War. With host status looming, the British Paralympic Association organised a series of trials in a bid to discover new talent. Wright had found her new passion. She says: "Now I'm playing sport which I absolutely love and at a level that I never ever dreamt of. It's given me ambition again and a whole new dream. What it's also given me back is my confidence. I truly believe that sport can give more to someone who is disabled than able-bodied."

She was chosen as part of a new team, who have had to learn the sport in the course of two years. They finished 11th at the last world championships. "The learning curve has been steep," says Wright. "We are getting better. It's about credibility, to prove we're good enough to be there."

Accepting the usual sporting cautions, Wright will be there. "To go back to London and do this thing that I absolutely love and for my family to be there will mean so much," she says. "I'm lucky I didn't die. All those coincidences... the last thing I was reading on the train, all I could think about was how do I get tickets for the Olympics. It's surreal I might now be part of it all as a result of something awful happening in my life."

Team 2012, presented by Visa, is raising funds to support 1,200 British athletes as they prepare for a place at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Visit

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor