Shelagh Fogarty: Martine's journey from Tube horror to Paralympics Games celebration

She laughs off suggestions that her appearance at the Games is inspiring

When the faces of the people who died in the 7 July bomb attacks in London were broadcast the world over, during the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Martine Wright could have been forgiven for shuddering. She came closer than most to being in that sad roll of honour.

Click HERE to view 'Sitting volleyball: everything you need to know' graphic

On that day seven years ago she had changed her travel plans and ended up on a Tube train just feet from the man who was to detonate a suicide bomb on the Circle Line at Aldgate. You probably know the rest – massive damage to her legs, which would later be amputated above the knee, and certainly only still alive because of the quick actions of an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer.

So when she positioned herself, agile and ready, on a Paralympic volleyball court yesterday it was the completion of a journey she herself has said she feels she was "meant to be on".

The 3,000-strong crowd who turned out to watch the women's GB sitting volleyball team play Ukraine probably all knew that at least one player on court was different from the rest, not because of her disability, but because of the story which led her to it. There are plenty of other athletes here at the Paralympic Games whose disability has its roots in war and violence – think of the Rwandan men's sitting volleyball team, made up of Hutus and Tutsis whose savage war left almost a million dead, or the former soldiers who lost limbs in landmines.

The 7 July attacks, though, will for ever be linked to the day London won the chance to host the Games. I remember broadcasting 5 Live Breakfast from Stratford on the morning after the big announcement from the IOC. The message from the editor? "Celebration". The tone of the programme from 6am-9am was just that. And then came the bombs.

Even as we were on air people like Martine already lay injured underground. As we left Stratford and the story emerged, the smiles faded to horror and disbelief. Martine didn't know it that morning – she was hanging on to her life – but she was heading this way even then.

After recovery and rehabilitation she learnt to fly, married Nick, and gave birth to Oliver. Then came sitting volleyball and a Paralympic dream. So when little Oliver waved his banner saying "Go Mummy Go!" in a crowd which included Boris Johnson and Barbara Windsor, he and the rest of us knew that she would.

She came on at the end of the second set after a nervous start by her team-mates. The court is smaller than for standing volleyball and the net is lower so the game is often considerably faster. The players don't exactly sit for long. Quick slides and lunges and deep serving make it a high-octane experience all round. Wright and her team-mates rallied and produced some impressive blocking against the European champions Ukraine. She was central to a pretty determined rally which went GB's way to huge cheers from the crowd. They play the Netherlands next and she says that's her main focus, not the attention she receives for her experience on 7 July, 2005.

While she laughs off suggestions that her appearance at the Paralympic Games is inspiring to fellow athletes and spectators alike – "it's just me" is her retort – she must know that everyone who recoiled at the events of that day watch her perform and understand, even just for one fleeting moment, Prospero's appeal to his daughter Miranda (enacted at the opening ceremony) to marvel at humanity.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea