Telford Paralympian puts injury behind him to climb for Britain
A newly-selected Paralympian climber from Telford has spoken of his pride to pull on the Union flag shirt, and his excitement to climb for Britain this summer.
Luke Smith, 30, has been climbing for years but only set his sights on becoming a pro after a horror eye injury stopped him competing in the sport of Muay Thai, in which he previously won championships.
Luke has lived with a talipes, or club foot, since birth and it means his left foot doesn't have a full range of rotation. It also means his left leg is shorter than his right and has less muscle tone.
But it hasn't stopped him climbing at a top level, and now, a little over a year after his life-changing eye injury, he is gearing up for international events representing Britain after being selected to join the Paralympic climbing team, under the auspices of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).
Luke said: "To be on the team is still a massive shock but it’s a big confidence boost, and it gives me more motivation to keep improving and working on my climbing.
"Everything has developed but I had a vision to compete at the nationals and then get into the team, so I’ve had my goals set and accomplished them."
Read more about Luke's Muay Thai success, his eye injury and his climbing journey:
- Telford Muay Thai champ chasing Paralympic dream after horror eye injury
- Telford climber Luke scales heights with GB Paraclimbing team
Luke lives in Leegomery and balances his climbing with a job as an NHS assistant physiotherapist and his studies at the University of Wolverhampton.
He began climbing at the Shropshire Climbing Centre in Newport, and attributes much of his development to his training with Andy Myers and OpenCrag, a collective of more than a dozen Shropshire-based climbers of varying abilities.
Luke has also recently branched out to climb at Climbing the Walls in Shrewsbury and other centres across the West Midlands.
Earlier this year, he began climbing outdoors around the region, before embarking on a trip to Fontainebleau in France, an internationally renowned spot for outdoor bouldering, with fellow OpenCrag members.
He said he learned a lot about his strengths and weaknesses in France, and returned with emboldened ambitions.
Luke has linked up with the Paraclimbing team several times since being selected, and he will represent Britain at the International Federation of Sport Climbing's (IFSC) Paraclimbing World Championships in July.
But before then he will attend the IFSC Paraclimbing Masters at the end of June, paid for off his own back so he can continue improving and climbing alongside the best in the world.
"To accomplish so much in such a short time I must be on the right path, and I am really happy but OpenCrag deserve a lot of credit for my progress too.
"I spoke to everyone at OpenCrag last year and said I want to get on the team, we have done that part now, the next step is a possible podium finish."
To learn more about Luke, visit his Instagram profile at instagram.com/lukey.climbs. See the Shropshire Climbing Centre's website at newportrock.com