Sporting heroes: 7/7 victim and Gurkha injured in battle make the Paralympics
A survivor of the 7/7 London bombings and a Gurkha who lost a leg in Afghanistan were yesterday named as part of the first ever British sitting volleyball team for the Paralympic Games. Martine Wright and Netra Rana were chosen in the women's and men's teams respectively for August's London Games.
Wright lost her legs on the Circle Line train on which a suicide bomber blew himself up outside Aldgate Station in 2005. The bombings came the morning after London had been awarded the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"I have dreamt of being part of [the Paralympics] and now I am going there to do my country proud," she said yesterday. "I'd like to thank my family and friends for all their love and support they have given me in my quest to become a Paralympian."
Lance Corpoal Rana, of the Royal Ghurka Rifles, was left without his left leg below the knee after an explosion in Afghanistan four years ago. He will be one of more than a dozen disabled veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan likely to be part of the British team at the Paralympics. "I am so happy and so proud," he said. "It's important not to let yourself down after an injury and find a sport you can do. Sitting volleyball has helped me physically and mentally."
It is a remarkable sporting as well as human story. Three years ago Britain did not have a sitting volleyball team. As host nation it can enter all events at the Paralympics, but the British Paralympic Association insisted credible performance levels were reached before agreeing to sanction the teams.
Going for gold: The athletes
On 6 July 2005, Wright went out to celebrate London winning the Olympics. The next morning she missed her usual train. She described the aftermath of the explosion: "My trainer was up above me, stuck on a mangled piece of metal. There was blood all over it. There were screams everywhere. And then the screams began stopping." She spent a year in hospital and took up sitting volleyball after a trial at Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympics.
In January 2008, Rana was blown up while on patrol in Kandahar. He was unconscious for two days. "When I came round I could see my left leg was already gone, and the right one was in bandages. All I could think was, yes, I was unlucky to get injured, but I am lucky to be alive," he said. He took up volleyball to help his rehabilitation.
Walker, 31, from Aylesbury, was part of the GB team which won bronze at last month's Paralympic World Cup. He spent two years as an army bomb disposal expert but his occupation had nothing to do with the loss of his legs. "Ironic," is how he described his double amputation as a result of meningitis.
The captain of the women's team was 18 she went travelling in Australia and contracted a virus. It damaged her neurological system and left her without the use of her legs.
Bowen, from Aberdare, was 19 when she was injured in a mortar attack serving in Iraq in 2006. She was in hospital for 11 months. "It just shows you never know what you're good at until you try," she said.
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
From rainforests and reefs to beaches and boat trips
The Silicon Valley awards which treat scientists like rockstars
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
World Cup 2014: Football Manager developers predict the team of the tournament - but which England player makes it into the XI?
Manchester City should have known rules in Bayern Munich match, says Rafa Benitez
Robin van Persie injury: Manchester United striker ruled out for a month after picking up thigh injury in win over Shakhtar Donetsk
Ashes 2013-14: Bowlers go short to let Aussies off the hook again
Champions League last 16 draw 2013: Who could Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United meet?
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 3 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 4 Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white