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England's strongest man Leeroi Smith has been told he could be paralysed if he lifts up his toddler son.
Smith earned the strongest man crown in 2022 in the under 90kg category.
Throughout his career the 30-year-old athlete has lifted weights of up to 340kg, but now he has been warned not to even lift up his two-year-old son Lincoln – who weighs just eight kilos – in fear of a life-changing injury.
The warning came from a doctor after it was discovered he had a prolapsed disk in his spine.
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Speaking about his diagnosis, Smith said: "It was scary. Hearing the word paralysis, I got a bit worried. The prospect of not being able to compete was heartbreaking.
"It was a bitter pill to swallow – I'm one of the best in the world. Last week I picked my boy up and gave him a kiss and then my whole arm went dead.
"I thought, 'have I just done it and lost the use of my arm forever?' Luckily it came back but it's a daunting prospect."
Smith initially felt a "niggle" back in June of last year, which went on to worsen following a return to competition in November.
He was then told by a specialist that he had damage across four vertebrae, and one disk is pressing against the nerve channel running from the spinal cord to the left arm.
The 30-year-old – who is a self employed ground worker – believes the injury could well have come during training to become England's strongest man, having worked out for 18 hours per week.
Smith has been placed on a one-year waiting list to receive the surgery required. In order to fast forward to procedure, the 30-year-old weightlifter is looking to raise £15,000 to have it carried out privately.
Discussing the idea that he will sadly never be able to lift again, he commented: "I'm still at work but I probably shouldn't be. I'm self-employed so I don't get paid for time off.
"For me to not be able to continue my passion and dreams was heartbreaking.
"But on the flip side, I had to look at the bigger picture. Would my son rather have a dad who carried on competing and became paralysed, or would he prefer a dad who could do things with him? For the first time in my life, I had to think sensibly."
As well as impressing nationally, Smith has also made a name for himself on the international stage within his sport. As a result, the 30-year-old finished fifth at the Official Strongman Games World Championships when competing in Florida in 2022.
Assessing his performance on the world stage, Smith told his followers on Instagram his 'body gave up on him' whilst performing, but admitted it was an 'amazing experience. He wrote: "Still p****d my body gave up and wouldn't let me load the last stone.
"But hey ho it is what it is what a long weekend it was and a brilliant experience yet again with some strong AF mother f*****s until next time."
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