England

Richard Branson will give 'bionic' woman medal for London Marathon

  • 5 May 2012
  • From the section England
Claire Lomas (middle) with Gabby and Kenny Logan on Tower Bridge, London
Image caption Claire Lomas (middle) with Gabby and Kenny Logan on Tower Bridge, London

Businessman Sir Richard Branson will honour a Leicestershire woman for completing the London Marathon, after race organisers refused her a medal.

Claire Lomas from Eye Kettleby, near Melton, is the first to walk the London Marathon course in a "bionic" suit.

A spokesperson for the race said competitors had to finish the 26.2-mile (42km) course on the same day.

Sir Richard, who heads the race sponsor Virgin, said he would reward her achievement when she finished.

Ms Lomas was paralysed from the chest down in a horse-riding accident in 2007.

She has already achieved her fund-raising target of £50,000 for the Spinal Research Charity and is expected to finish the course next week.

Celebrities including TV presenter Gabby Logan and her husband, former international rugby player Kenny, as well as sport stars Tim Henman and Kelly Holmes have showed their support.

Ms Lomas's £43,000 bionic suit enables people with lower-limb paralysis to stand, walk and climb stairs through motion sensors and an onboard computer system.

A shift in the wearer's balance, indicating their desire to take, for example, a step forward, triggers the suit to mimic the response that the joints would have if they were not paralysed.

A London Marathon spokeswoman said the charity was contacted before the race to inform them of the policy on late finishers.

She added it was for practical reasons, as the timing system had been dismantled and there was no way of verifying that the competitor had finished.

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