professional athlete • presenter • public speaker
David Andrew Smith MBE took up Paralympic Rowing in 2009 after representing Great Britain in able-bodied Karate between 1993-1999 and Bobsleigh from 2002- 2008. During this time he also worked with the British Ski Teams as a national assistant coach. David was born with clubfoot and came close to having his right foot amputated at birth. After spending his first three years learning to walk in special boots and plaster casts, a career in Olympic sport seemed doubtful. However, this certainly wasn't going to hold him back.
Along with the sports that David competed in for team GB he also competed in Shinty winning junior Scottish titles, Skiing, where he raced in Austria, France and New Zealand, and Athletics where he won a East of Scotland 400m title. After years of problems and missing out on the 2006 Winter Olympics by the smallest margin, a routine physio session discovered an abnormal reaction in his neck. Further tests were arranged which would lead to the discovery of a spinal cord tumour which was crushing his spinal cord. The surgery in May 2010 involved cutting into his spinal cord, removing three vertebrae, bypassing his voicebox and rebuilding his neck with metal cages and screws. After his first surgery to remove the tumour he then developed a blood clot and woke up completely paralysed. He was rushed back into hospital to undergo more life-saving surgery. During a month in hospital where he had to learning to walk again, from his bed David started his rehab using only his mind, he visualized training and spent hours a day training his mind in the belief that it would have a positive effect on the body.
After just 5 months out of hospital he was back in a boat in winter training and rowing over 170km a week. 14 months out of hospital David won the World Rowing Championships in the mixed coxed four, and then went on to win Gold in the mixed coxed four at Eton Dorney during the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
2015 saw the release of the amazing documentary 'Dead Man Cycling'. Dead Man Cycling followed David over the 18 months before, during and after his second spinal surgery. It is an emotional story of David's sheer inner strength and utter determination as he fights to live and ultimately regain fitness. Never known to do anything by halves, David set himself the seemingly impossible goal of attempting to cycle one of the world's most notorious cycling climbs - Mont Ventoux. Not once, but three times in a day - all just six months post-surgery.
Alongside his sporting life, David studied sports science and sports performance at Bath University, he also has Diplomas
in sports nutrition and sports conditioning. David was awarderd the MBE in the New years honour list for 2012 which would cap an amazing year in his sporting journey.
To top this all off, David is an exceptional public speaker giving very moving motivational talks.