Martine Wright, GB Sitting Volleyball player, has won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award. The award is given “for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity”, and the winner is selected by BBC Sport. The award is named after the BBC sports presenter Helen Rollason, who died in August 1999 at the age of 43 after suffering from cancer for two years.
Martine was born in London and lost both of her legs in the Aldgate underground explosion in the 7/7 London bombings in 2005. As part of her rehabilitation, she played wheelchair tennis before focussing on sitting volleyball.
Martine was an initial member of the Great Britain women’s squad which began playing together in late 2009 making her debut at the 2010 Kent International tournament against Paralympic Champions, China. This summer she represented Great Britain women’s sitting volleyball team at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. A video of her journey to the Games launched Channels 4s coverage of the Paralympics just moments before the opening ceremony.
Lisa Wainwright, Chief Executive of Volleyball England said this evening, “this is an outstanding achievement for an amazing person and athlete. In terms of this year’s most inspiring stories in sport, no one comes close. When it comes to true British grit and determination as well as what the Olympics and Paralympics stands for – inspiring people through sporting excellence – I can’t think of a better role model.”
The award to Martine, emphasizes the strong development that both men’s and women’s squads have made since Volleyball England began delivering the programme. The Great Britain Sitting Volleyball programme was created following the award of the London Games and in that time we have built not only a fantastic group of athletes, but started the foundations to grow the sport for many years to come, at all levels.
The award also comes ahead of some important major funding decisions for volleyball. Sport England will announce on Monday 17th December on participation funding, including grassroots development of sitting volleyball. Martine Wright has helped increase the profile of volleyball, together with programmes like Go Spike, with 30,000 new people trying volleyball.
On Tuesday 18th December, UK Sport will announce which of Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes, they will fund to maximise chances of continuing success on the world stage, in the lead up to Rio 2016. Team sports offer an important means towards boosting participation, a key part of the promised Olympic and Paralympic legacy.
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