Dave Smith Paralympic Champion podcast

048: Dave Smith on choosing to live

In this incredibly moving episode, Dave Smith, Paralympic champion, takes us through his life journey, which involves not just remarkable achievements in sports but also a courageous fight against cancer. The interview is both emotionally charged and existentially insightful, providing a deep look into what truly matters in life.

Show notes begin with the topic of living with purpose, touching upon the pros and cons of social media and how quickly life can change. Dave talks candidly about the external and internal effects of his spinal tumor, stressing the importance of reaching out for help when navigating such life-altering experiences.

Dave opens up about his early life, discussing a foot deformity he had from birth and revealing that symptoms of his tumor began appearing when he was just 17. He shares the toll that overtraining and pushing too hard took on him and discusses the challenges he faced while getting classified for Paralympic sports.

One pivotal moment came in 2009 when Dave joined a supported rowing program. The support and medical investigations he received not only saved his life but also led to the identification of his tumor. Dave explains how, after his tumor diagnosis in 2010, sports became his coping mechanism. He emphasizes that everyone’s cancer journey is unique and highly personal, explaining that he chose to view his experience as a battle, throwing himself into sports as a form of therapy.

Dave also talks about the psychology behind ‘have to’ and ‘want to’ goals, shedding light on how our mindset can influence our actions. Finally, the conversation circles back to existential questions: Who are you? What defines you? What is your purpose in life?

Listening to Dave Smith is nothing short of inspiring. His story serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the profound impact of having a strong sense of purpose.

Show notes:

  • Living with purpose, the benefits and negatives of social media and the way in which the world can rapidly change
  • External and internal effects of spinal tumour
  • Reaching out for help
  • Regaining control better sleep, better nutrition, better exercise, reconnecting with passions and support of friends and mentors
  • Dave’s story form the beginning
  • Foot deformity from birth
  • Tumour symptoms from 17
  • Overtraining and pushing too hard
  • Bobsleigh challenge
  • Classifying for Paralympic sport
  • 2009 joining a supported rowing programme
  • Rowing support and investigation saved Dave’s life and identified the tumour
  • 2010 tumour diagnosis, life changed but sport was the coping mechanism
  • Re-diagnosis
  • Cancer diagnosis and the way in which you deal with it is very individual, use what works for you, Dave chose to use it as a battle and threw himself into sport.
  • The difference between the ‘have to’ and ‘want to’ goals
  • Who are you and what defines you, what is your purpose?


Dave’s website


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Steve Ingham on Twitter

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