Paralympic spirit ready to shine in London
There is a moving story behind every Paralympian. There are stomach-churning atrocities such as forced sterilisations to bloody tales of war victims. But few match the sliding doors story of Martine Wright, one of the faces of the London Games starting on Wednesday.
THERE is a moving story behind every Paralympian.
There are stomach-churning atrocities such as forced sterilisations to bloody tales of war victims.
There are life-changing injuries resulting from innocent pursuits such as childhood pranks and family holidays.
But few match the sliding doors story of Martine Wright, one of the faces of the London Paralympic Games starting on Wednesday.
The marketing manager celebrated London winning the right to host the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in 2005 by partying long and hard, overslept and missed her normal train carriage.
Minutes later, she had her legs ripped off her body by a bomb blast in London’s 7 July terrorist attacks.
In a coma for 10 days, her body was so swollen that her family told police it wasn’t her.
Wright will make her Paralympic debut in Britain’s women’s sitting volleyball team in front of an expected 10,000-strong crowd.
She said she had to make the most of her life.
“For the 52 who died in the bombings that choice was taken away from them,” Wright said.
She will not be the only one to enjoy a wave of goodwill from the British public in the afterglow of the successful Olympics.
The 4200 athletes from 166 countries are set to compete in front of record crowds with the Games on track to be sold out for the first time.
Fresh from his ground-breaking appearance in the Olympic 400m semi-finals, Bladerunner Oscar Pistorius will be one of the headline acts while Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer will look to extend her phenomenal 465-match winning streak.
For Australia, much attention will be on wheelchair marathon man Kurt Fearnley and eight-time Paralympic champion swimmer Matthew Cowdrey.
Fearnley will be chasing a third straight Paralympic T54 marathon title with six-time London marathon champion and home hero David Weir one of his biggest threats.
In the pool, Cowdrey has a shot at becoming Australia’s most decorated Paralympian.
He needs three gold medals to overtake runner Tim Sullivan who is also competing in east London.
Australia’s wheelchair basketball teams are expected to be gold medal contenders again while the wheelchair rugby team are hungry to claim a maiden Olympic crown.
The national team is chasing a top five finish on the medal table to match their 2008 Beijing performance but are wary of predictions. Understandably so, following the opening week blues of their Olympic compatriots.
It will be a spiritual homecoming for the Paralympics, the brainchild of visionary doctor Ludwig Guttmann.
He organised a hospital games at the same time as the 1948 London Olympics with the event evolving into what is recognised as the first Paralympics in 1960.
Intellectually disabled sports return for the first time since Sydney in 2000.
The category had been shelved following revelations the Spanish men’s basketball team that won gold in Sydney contained players without a disability.
Every intellectually disabled athlete must take an IQ test as part of a much tighter screening process. – AAP