048: Dave Smith on choosing to live

Dave Smith, Paralympic champion shares his emotional story intertwining sporting pursuit and cancer survival. This interview is a deep one, it’s a full existential exploration of what is important, how and what we pursue and the focus on what really matters in our lives. I had the truly humbling, moving and inspirational experience of speaking to Dave Smith to tell his utterly remarkable story of sporting endeavour, fighting cancer and choosing to live life.

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


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

Dave’s blog

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Steve Ingham on Twitter

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Dr Steve Ingham is one of the UK’s leading figures in sport and one of the world’s leading performance scientists. He is steeped in high performance and has been integral to the development of Britain into an Olympic superpower. He has provided support to over 1000 athletes, of which over 200 have achieved World or Olympic medal success, including some of the world’s greatest athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent. Steve has coached Kelly Sotherton's running for heptathlon and to 4x400m Olympic medal winning success. Steve has worked at the English Sports Council British Olympic Association, English Institute of Sport, where Steve was the Director of Science and Technical Development, leading a team of 200 scientists in support of Team GB and Paralympics GB. Ingham holds a BSc, PhD and is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences. Steve is author of the best selling ‘How to Support a Champion: The art of applying science to the elite athlete’, discussing and inspiring the importance of learning and adapting to reach our maximum potential. Steve established Supporting Champions with the ambition of helping ambitious people to find a better way of creating high-performance. Steve hosts the Supporting Champions Podcast on sharing his pursuit of understanding and exploration in performance.

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