Defiant David hails best day of his life
"This is the best day of my life," said David Smith after completing a remarkable journey from paralysis from the neck down to Paralympic gold medallist.
The 34-year-old was part of the ParalympicsGB mixed coxed fours crew which overcame equipment problems to beat Germany by half-a-length and add the London 2012 title to the World Championship they won last year.
And it all comes just over two years since complications during an operation to remove a tumour on his spine left Smith temporarily unable to move from the neck down.
"It is going to take a long time for this to sink in," said Smith, who trained alongside Winter Olympics bob skeleton champion Amy Williams at the University of Bath before persistent injury problems – eventually traced back to the tumour – forced him to retire from bobsleigh.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
He is still officially in recovery and has days where he is too exhausted to train but his determination to get back to competitive fitness has been amply rewarded.
Smith and his British team-mates of Naomi Riches, Pamela Relph, James Roe, along with cox Lily van den Broecke, were favourites going into Sunday's final but suffered a pre-race blip when their speed coach machine, which shows stroke rate, fell into the water.
They found themselves marginally behind at the halfway point but managed to eke out a 0.65sec lead over the Germans at the 750m mark.
And – roared on by an exuberant Eton Dorney crowd – they extended that to a stunning 2.06sec margin at the finish to win a final in which Ukraine took bronze.
Cox van den Broecke said: "I can't believe how proud I am of this crew for keeping everything together. This is [the result of] two years' work and it's incredible."
Smith's team-mate Riches summed up the crew's feelings by saying: "We choose to be athletes and now all the moments of pain and the hours of training have been worth it."