Paralympian David Smith has thanked fans for their support after successful surgery to remove a tumour from his spine.
Smith, 37, won gold in rowing at the London Paralympics in 2012 and hoped to compete in Rio this summer in cycling.
He had planned to put off surgery until after the Rio Games, but was told the tumour was just 8mm from his spine and if left would crush his spinal cord and stop him breathing.
He recorded a video from his hospital bed after the life-saving surgery and posted it on YouTube.
He said: “I just wanted to let you know the surgery went well. My voice is damaged a little bit and I’m temporarily paralysed down one side so I can’t use my left arm or left leg at the moment, but I feel pretty good, so I’m still here and just gonna push on with the rehab now.
“I need to learn how to walk again, how to stand and everything, but all is good and thank-you so much for all the messages. I’ve just kind of come round now, surgery was nine hours long so was pretty long to be under anaesthetic.
“Thank-you everyone for the energy, it worked so I’ll keep you updated.”
It is the fourth operation he has had on the tumour, which was supplied by a single blood vessel which controls his breathing.
Before surgery he compared it to a race, saying: “Surgery is now here, like any race in life I feel best prepared but also pretty scared.
Smith, from Aviemore, won gold following two operations on his spine and was briefly left paralysed after major surgery in 2010 which involved surgeons cutting into his spinal cord and removing three vertebrae.
Although initially unable to walk, he was determined to return to sport and as complications caused by the surgery ruled out rowing, he turned to paracycling instead – setting his sights on Rio.
Smith was born with a club foot but represented Great Britain in able-bodied karate between 1993-1999 and bobsleigh from 2002-2008 before turning to Paralympic events.
He was made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2012.