Great Britain Cycling Team’s David Smith says he wants to postpone surgery in a bid to compete at Rio 2016 despite the return of a tumour on his back.
The 37-year-old, who won a Paralympic gold medal in rowing at London 2012 before switching sports to cycling, has had surgery to remove the genetic tumour from his spinal column twice before in the past.
Writing on his blog, Smith confirmed that new test results showed that his tumour had returned.
“This is the problem with a genetic tumour, no matter what I do, that cell is going to keep growing back.
“I have eight millimetres left inside my (spinal) cord for the tumour to grow before it would cut off my cord and I would face losing my lungs and stop breathing, along with full paralysis.”
Smith, who was part of the Great Britain Cycling Team that competed at the UCI Para-cycling World Cup in South Africa earlier this month, says the decision to delay surgery was an easy one.
“I have decided not to have surgery right now and live my life for the next 11 months chasing my dream of cycling in Rio.
“I am living life with eight millimetres of hope. The hope that it won’t grow fast and allow me to train and enjoy my life for one more year before I go back into surgery.”
Great Britain Cycling Team Para-cycling head coach, Jon Norfolk, said:
“It’s obviously devastating news for David that his tumour has returned. He’s made fantastic progress in recent months and is a real example, not only to thousands of people across the country, but also to other riders on our programme, who really look up to him.
“David’s goal is to make it to Rio and if anybody can do it he can. However, the most important priority is his long term health and we would never want that to be put at risk. We will work extremely closely with David over the next weeks and months to establish the best plan for him going forward.”