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Tom targets Tour after a summer of track success.

Byline: Kathryn Williams Reporter kathryn.williams@walesonline.co.uk

A SEVERELY deaf cyclist has been awarded for his triumph over adversity after overcoming serious injuries and childhood bullying to become one of Britain's top cyclists - and a hopeful for the Tour de France.

Tom Smith, 26, from Cardiff, was recognised at the Specsavers Sound Barrier Awards - held in aid of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People - after spending the last five years training, fundraising and putting a spotlight on deaf cycling. This summer he competed in the Deaflympics held in Bulgaria, winning silver and bronze for team GB, making him the country's most successful athlete at the Games.

The former Llanishen High pupil, who was subject to vicious bullying because of his deafness, put his focus and energy into the sport he loved to get away from those who verbally and sometimes physically attacked him.

Not only a champion for deaf sport, Tom also competes in ablebodied cycling, and represented team GB in the European Championships where he kept pace with the likes of Olympian Geraint Thomas. He is a member of the LUMETVDBG Steenhouwerij Cycling Team in Belgium and is currently doing winter training at home in Cardiff.

Taking up cycling at the age of nine, Tom always dreamed of becoming a professional sportsman. Hoping to push on from his success in the deaf cycling world, Tom's immediate aim is to compete in the Tour de France and other top cycling events in the next three years.

Tom said: "My hearing loss is part of my ability and what makes me so determined to succeed. I've spent my life being told I can't do certain things because of my hearing condition.

I hope this award shows the deaf and hard of hearing world that you can do anything if you set your mind to it."

He added: "I had a tough childhood marred with serious bullying. My accident almost made me turn my back on the sport I love. After working so hard, I was suddenly unable to exercise, became overweight and was wondering whether it was worth it. However, I knew I had to keep going."

Tom was determined to carry on, using his hearing loss and personal hardship as the catalyst for his cycling success. Not only does Tom now compete as a GB deaf cyclist, he also runs, manages and drives fundraising for the whole of GB Deaf Cycling.

The Sound Barrier Star Awards, run by Specsavers in aid of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, celebrate those in the deaf or hard of hearing community who have overcome challenging odds to achieve something incredible.

"I'm so pleased that Specsavers are doing something for the deaf community. Normally it's deaf people who look after deaf people. Winning this award was a weight off my shoulders.

"Thanks go to my dad, Ian, for nominating me and to my training team CISM for their support."

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 6, 2013
Words:509
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