July 7 bombings: why my life is better since the attacks

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July 7 bombings: why my life is better since the attacks
Martine Wright, who lost her legs five years ago in the London terror attacks, talks to Gareth A Davies about having a baby – and setting her sights on the Paralympics
By Gareth A Davies
Published: 6:06PM BST 26 Jun 2010
Sourced from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7856471/July-7-bombings-why-my-life-is-better-since-the-attacks.html

Tags: Heroes, Martine Wright, Inspiration, London bombings, Telegraph Group Ltd, Gareth A Davies

Martine Wright: ‘I used to wear skirts. Now I?ve lost both knees, I can’t wear a heel’ Photo: David Rose
“The last thing I remember at work the day before the bomb,” recalls Paralympic hopeful Martine Wright, “was jumping up and down with my colleagues because London had won the bid for the Games.”
The following morning – July 7, 2005 – Martine found herself sitting near Shehzad Tanweer, the suicide bomber on the Aldgate train. “I was 20 minutes late getting up that morning,” she says, “and because of signal failures on the Northern line, I decided to take the Circle line instead. And I’d never liked the Circle line because there was always a wait for a train.”
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It proved a fateful decision. In the blast, Martine was thrown to the floor and caught in the metal casing of the carriage as it twisted and bent. Her legs were still intact when she was taken to hospital – she was the last person in the carriage to be evacuated – but they had been trapped in metal, and both had to be amputated above the knee.
Five years on, and Martine is hoping to become a Paralympian in the 2012 Games as a member of the British women’s sitting volleyball team.
“I feel lucky that I survived, and now have a duty to get out there and do things,” says the 37-year-old. “Fifty-two people died in London that day [eight on the Aldgate train], so now I take every opportunity that presents itself.”
Originally from London (“I was born within earshot of Bow Bells”), Martine moved out of the capital soon after the attacks. “I got blown up on a London Tube and didn’t want to live there any more.” But, with the forthcoming Games, she is looking forward to returning. “I want to go back in 2012, represent my country, and see the nation waving their flags in the Olympic stadium.”

This upbeat, high-spirited and inspirational woman believes that her life today is “fuller and more fulfilling” than it was before 7/7. “I wasn’t born without legs, so I have to deal with it, with the memories of how I did things before. Like when I see someone running for a bus, seeing them run naturally. Something I would have done. Also, I liked my shoes and my clothes, and I used to wear skirts. Now I’ve lost both knees, I can’t wear a heel.”
Following the double amputation, Martine learned how to walk using prosthetic “c-legs”, each weighing a stone. “They’re the best on the market, but, unfortunately, they don’t walk for you. I didn’t use crutches; I used a stick. It was like teaching a baby; I kept falling down.
“At the start, just doing physiotherapy for 15 minutes a day was exhausting, and it was more psychological than anything else – dealing with the sight of myself in hospital with no legs. I would just burst into tears randomly.”
Her family and her boyfriend, Nick, were a huge support. “They kept saying, ‘You might not have your legs, but you will always be Martine.’ It motivated me to fight back.”
Still, despite the tears and struggles, the self-confessed “career-driven woman” was determined to return to her job as a marketing executive. “I went back in 2006, sat at my desk and thought ‘My God, what am I doing here?’ I had to leave – I wanted to do things in my life that have real meaning.”
New opportunities were awaiting her. In 2007, Martine was offered a scholarship to go to South Africa to learn how to fly small planes. She qualified in six weeks. Next, she learnt to ski again on a Paralympic mono-bob, a single-ski vehicle for amputees. Then, 20 months ago, she established a new ambition: to become a 2012 Paralympian. “I went to a fast-track try-out day for Paralympic sports at Stoke Mandeville. I tried wheelchair tennis, but I liked sitting volleyball because it’s not in the chair [contestants sit on the floor], and it’s a team sport and I’m a sociable person. I like the camaraderie.”
Martine is set to fly to the Sitting Volleyball World Championships in Oklahoma with the women’s team on July 7. It is a date that follows, rather than haunts, her. Indeed, her son, Oscar, was due to be born on that date last year. In the end, he was a week late.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision,” she says of having a baby. “I only lost my legs. Otherwise, I’m the same as everyone else and I’d always wanted children.”
She met Nick, a photographer, in 2003 at a mutual friend’s birthday party. They married in 2008 after a surprise proposal. “It was on our very first holiday after the accident and we went to Spain, to the Costa Blanca. Nick told me he wanted to go and photograph the salt lakes but was planning to propose.”
The couple now live in a fully adapted open-plan bungalow in Tring, Hertfordshire, with the kitchen re-designed ergonomically to Martine’s height. The only doors are in the bedroom and bathroom.
“I’ve never pushed a pram,” she says. “Instead, I put Oscar on to the wheelchair with me. Otherwise, I’m exactly the same as any other mother; it just takes me longer to do things.”
Given the horrific events Martine experienced on that dark day in London, you would be hard pushed to find a human being with a greater zest for life. The most recent addition to her burgeoning CV is as an ambassador for Typhoo Sport for All.
“It was thrilling to be asked,” she says. “I played county hockey when I had my legs, and now I’m fully committed to sitting volleyball. I’ve seen sport on both sides, before and after what happened to me, and I know from the last couple of years that sport gives disabled people so much more.
“Now I’m meeting other potential Paralympians, and sport can help you through trauma. I’m doing something I never dreamed of doing. I’m not a negative person, and I’ve worked damned hard to make sure I’m there in 2012. I want to make sure I’m part of that time.”
Still, even with her optimistic nature, she finds it hard to believe all the twists and turns her life has taken.
“My God, if you’d told me when I woke up with no legs that I was going to have babies, I’d have thought you were mad.
“And if you told me I’d be going to represent my country in a sport I love, I’d have thought you were completely off your rocker.”

* The Typhoo Sports for All campaign aims to increase participation in sport and ensure disabled people can access the sport and physical activity of their choice. To find a course in your area, visit http://www.typhootea.co.uk

Sourced from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7856471/July-7-bombings-why-my-life-is-better-since-the-attacks.html

“It always seems impossible…. until it gets done.”
– Nelson Mandela
from http://www.mandelamadiba.wordpress.com

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22 Responses to “July 7 bombings: why my life is better since the attacks”

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