David Smith (rower)

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David Smith with Naomi Riches

David Smith MBE (born 21 April 1978) is a British adaptive rower who won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics.

Personal life[edit]

Smith was born on 21 April 1978 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.[1] He was born with a club foot and for the first three years of his life he had his bones repeatedly broken and reset to correct his foot's alignment.[2]

He graduated from the University of Bath in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in sports performance.[1]

In 2010 he underwent emergency surgery after doctors found a tumour inside his spinal cord at cervical spine level. The surgery left him temporarily paralysed, an issue that was later determined to be the result of a blood clot.[2]

He is a vegan.[3][4]

Early sporting career[edit]

He earned a Black Belt in Karate and was is the British squad for 6 years. He took up sprinting in a desire to compete at the Olympics as karate was not an Olympic sport, and became East of Scotland 400m champion in mainstream athletics, and took third in the 200m behind Olympian Ian Mackie. But running round bends caused stress fractures which forced him to quit.

He turned to bobsleigh, because straight-line running was fine and made the GB team as a brakeman. But neck and back pains interrupted training and he missed a 2006 Winter Olympics spot by one-hundredth of a second.[5]


Smith was introduced to adaptive rowing in 2009 at a Paralympic Potential Day run by the British Paralympic Association.[1] He competes in the legs, trunks and arms adaptive mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+) event in which he won a gold medal at the 2009 World Rowing Championships, competing in a crew with Vicky Hansford, Naomi Riches, James Roe and cox Rhiannon Jones.[6]

In 2011 he competed at the at World Rowing Championships held at Lake Bled, Bled, Slovenia. He won the gold medal in the LTAMix4+ event alongside crewmates Pam Relph, Naomi Riches, James Roe and cox, Lily van den Broecke.[1][7] They completed the one kilometre course in a time of three minutes, 27.10 seconds, finishing nearly five seconds ahead of runners-up Canada. The result qualified a boat for Great Britain into the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London.[8] The crew repeated their gold medal result at the Munich World Cup event in 2012.[1]

Smith was selected along with Relph, Riches, Roe, and van den Broeke, to compete for Great Britain at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in the mixed coxed four event.[9] The event took place between 31 August and 2 September at Eton Dorney.[10] The Great Britain crew won gold.

Smith was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to rowing.[11][12]


Despite his success at rowing, medical issues forced Smith to retire from that sport, and he subsequently joined British Cycling's Paralympic Academy programme in 2014.[13] He continued to compete at Paracycling despite further surgery on the tumour, taking ninth place at the final Para-cycling Road World Cup of the 2015 season in Pietermaritzburg, but in January 2016 he announced that he'd need another operation that ended his plans to compete at the 2016 Paralympic games [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "David Smith". British Paralympic Association. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  2. ^ a b Bowdler, Neil (5 August 2011). "Scot overcomes paralysis to row again for Britain". BBC News. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  3. ^ Clark, Anne (5 September 2014). "Q&A With Plant-Fuelled Paralympian Dave Smith". PETA UK. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  4. ^ Kirkova, Deni (26 August 2015). "12 vegan athletes smashing it on a meat-free diet". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  5. ^ "When suffering is all that stands between an athlete and their goal". Hearld Scotland. 25 August 2012.
  6. ^ Gough, Martin (29 August 2009). "Britain win two golds at Worlds". BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  7. ^ "World Rowing: GB mixed coxed four win adaptive gold". BBC Sport. 4 September 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Wham, bam thank you Pam as rower gets gold to set up London 2012 dream". The Bucks Herald. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  9. ^ "2012 Paralympics: GB rowing's mixed coxed four – who's who?". BBC Sport. 25 August 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Mixed Coxed Four – LTAMix4+". The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Limited. Retrieved 25 August 2012.
  11. ^ "No. 60367". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 2012. p. 25.
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "Great Britain Cycling Team". Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Cyclist David Smith forced to end Paralympic dream". Bbc.co.uk. 13 February 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2017.

External links[edit]