By David Smith

MIXED emotions for me today. I should have been writing this sat in Glasgow as I prepared to ride my pursuit at the UCI Track World Cup at the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome.

Instead I am just sat at home, warning up on my turbo, looking at the wall. However I am more than happy. I am happy just to be on my bike, building towards next year with no pressure, enjoying my training and living in the moment.

My team mates took to the boards in Glasgow all fighting for spots in Tokyo and I couldn’t be any prouder to see them chase this dream. You can read all about them elsewhere in this section. Of course I would love to be part of that fight but staying ahead of this tumour is my medal race.

It has been a week of incredible sporting stories. From John Archibald getting a silver medal in a race in Minsk which the Italian Filippo Ganna ride the fastest pursuit the world has ever seen to Siya Kolisit becoming the first black captain to lift the World Cup for South Africa, a moment which transcended sport. As I read Kolisi’s story I thought to myself this is a true role model, someone who has the power to bring about real change.

I reflected on all this as I sat down with Steve Ingham to chat about life and sport on his Supporting Champions podcast. Steve has worked in British sport for over 20 years and helped support athletes such as Steve Redgrave and Jessica Ennis to Olympic success so I was very humbled when he invited me on his podcast to chat about the lessons learned from the intensive care unit to the sporting arena.

If you’re looking for a new podcast Steve’s is a great one. It certainly helps me get through my long turbo sessions.

I can tell that I am becoming more introverted. I had a few interesting experiences this week, one which involved a lady not knowing what a disabled bathroom was (she told me if I went downstairs I could see if it’s disabled or not), an other was meeting a guy who claimed he was so tough he wasn’t scared of being paralysed from the neck down. I would like to share the latter experience with you as I feel that self awareness and social awareness are two important life skills that maybe he lacked slightly.

I was listening as this guy was sharing his story of his bulging disk in his neck and how he lost feeling in his hand. I said ‘it’s not worth risking paralysis for one game of Sunday rugby’. To which he replied: “I am hard as nails and absolutely love running through people”.

I smiled and said ‘but what if you get hit in the neck and the disc presses more on the cord?’ His reply almost knocked me sideways. He said he didn’t care. It’s worth the risk.

When I paused he asked if he could see the scar on my neck. But I told him ‘trust me, it’s not worth it’. I told him about my time in Stoke Mandeville hospital and how I had met several guys with complete spinal cord neck-down injuries and it’s not an easy life.

To say it is one thing. To live it is something else.

It doesn’t matter how hard you think you are. If you break your neck and can’t move you have someone washing you for life.

Now I am definitely not saying ‘don’t live’. Because living outside your comfort zone is fun, it pushes us to achieve. But I said, mate you do know if that disc slips that’s it, if it goes into the cord you run the risk of paralysis. I have had to let go of lots of things I loved doing before, but I have found purpose in other things I explained.

Even after sharing my hospital stories his guy still told me he was going to go smash people on the pitch because he loved showing how tough he was. In the end I just had smile and be polite and let him and his inner chimp have their moment.

Real strength is not defined by how many people you can smash through on a pitch. I remember after my first surgery I wrote a quote out on a piece of paper and put it on my wall.

“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do,” it said. “But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” It is a quote which has served me well - lived by this all the way through every surgery.

As I sit waiting for the results to come in from Glasgow I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have raced there today. A fter a moment of pausing, I tell myself that now isn’t the time for regrets. I remind myself to live in the moment. It’s time to go to the gym.