Paralysed woman Claire Lomas completes London Marathon in bionic suit
Tuesday 08 May 2012
A paralysed woman has become the first person to complete a marathon in a bionic suit.
Claire Lomas finished the London Marathon today, crossing the finishing line 16 days after the race began.
The 32-year-old said she was "over the moon" as she completed the 26.2-mile route, which she started on April 22 with 36,000 other participants.
The former chiropractor was in tears as she became the first person to complete any marathon using a bionic ReWalk suit at 12.50pm today.
Hundreds lined the streets as she made her final steps to complete the race.
Three mounted members of the Household Cavalry gave her a guard of honour as she crossed the finishing line on The Mall.
Jewellery designer Ms Lomas, who was left paralysed from the chest down following a horse-riding accident in 2007, said: "I'm over the moon.
"There were times when I questioned whether I would make it when I was training.
"Once I started, I just took each day as it came and every step got me a step closer."
A spokeswoman for the mounted regiment said the two riders were there to give Ms Lomas "extra support because she is passionate about horses".
Ms Lomas will not appear in the official results and did not receive a medal when she finished as competitors have to complete the course on the same day to qualify for a medal, organisers said.
But a number of marathon runners decided to donate their own medals to Ms Lomas.
Jacqui Rose, from Southampton who contributed her medal along with an estimated 12 others, said: "She has epitomised what I thought the London Marathon was all about.
"That medal, when you have completed it and gone through all the pain of it, symbolises that achievement of what you have gone out of your way to do for charity.
"For her not to have got one ridicules what the marathon was all about."
Holly Branson, daughter of tycoon Richard - whose company Virgin sponsors the race, was at the finish line waiting to give Ms Lomas the Virgin trophy for endurance. The company hands out the award annually.
She said: "She has done the most amazing job.
"It was so emotional when she crossed that line, tears welled up in my eyes and everyone was cheering."
Ms Lomas, from Eye Kettleby, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, raised more than £86,000 for Spinal Research, a charity which funds medical research around the world to develop reliable treatments for paralysis caused by a broken back or neck.
She said: "When I was in hospital I saw a lot of people with similar injuries to me and a lot worse.
"I have had tremendous support since my accident which I amso grateful for, some don't have that.
"Some people lose the use of their arms as well.
"A cure needs to be found."
She walked about two miles a day, cheered on by husband Dan, her parents and 13-month-old daughter Maisie.
Ms Lomas said she was now going to write a book and "spend some good time with Maisie", adding: "Then I'll think of something else daft to do."
A number of celebrities have also lent their support by walking a mile alongside her, including TV presenter Gabby Logan and husband, former international rugby star Kenny, and TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle.
The mother of one broke her neck, back and ribs and punctured a lung when her horse Rolled Oats threw her off as she took part in the Osberton Horse Trials in Nottinghamshire in 2007.
The £43,000 ReWalk suit, designed by Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer, enables people with lower-limb paralysis to stand, walk and climb stairs through motion sensors and an onboard computer system.
A shift in the wearer's balance, indicating their desire to take, for example, a step forward, triggers the suit to mimic the response that the joints would have if they were not paralysed.
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