Leeds wheelchair sprinter sets sights on glory in Paralympics

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An ambitious wheelchair sprinter from Farsley has launched a £5,000 fundraising campaign as he aims for Paralympic glory.

Nick Smith, 23, who will also start work on a tennis development apprenticeship with Leeds City Council in January, is in need of a lightweight racing wheelchair as he aims to compete at the Paralympic Games at Rio 2016 or Tokyo 2020.

Nick has been into sports such as basketball and tennis since he was six years old. However he only started to take wheelchair athletics seriously two years ago and has discovered he has a natural talent for sprinting.

The athlete, whose mobility is affected by a condition called arthrogryposis, was recently selected for the British Athletics Parallel Success Talent Development Squad.

He was ranked as high as 12th in the world for the 100 metre sprint in the T52 classification this summer. Nick, who has set up an online fundraising page, told the YEP:

“I didn’t expect this at all, it’s only this year that I started competing properly.

“I ended up looking for the world rankings and seeing my times up there made me realise I have a pretty good chance.

“A new wheelchair would definitely help me dramatically and help me reach my goal.” He said it would also be great to have another competitor from Yorkshire at the Paralympics.”

Nick trains most days at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Beeston.

He hopes a SportsAid grant will also help him fund the travel to major events in the UK and potentially Switzerland next year as he aims to rise through the ranks.

To donate to Nick’s appeal for funding for a custom-built racing wheelchair – the total currently stands at around £600 – visit www.gofundme.com/hej9t8.