Tom Daley has been told he may end up in wheelchair if he continues diving because he has ''a degenerative disc and a disc bulge'' in his spine.
Tom Daley has been told he may end up in a wheelchair if he continues diving.
The 22-year-old British sportsman - who is a double Olympics bronze medal winner - has admitted after 15 years of swimming and plunging into the water at speeds of up to 35 mph has started to take its toll on his body, and medical experts have warned him about the long-term risks to his health if he continues to compete.
Speaking about his body, the dark-haired hunk said: ''We hit the water at 35 mph and it takes 1.6 seconds from the top to the bottom. You hit the water and pretty much stop straight away so it's not easy on your body.
''There's only a certain amount the human body can take, and the constant twisting and turning can really affect your body. I've had all sorts wrong with me. I've torn my tricep, a degenerative disc and a disc bulge in my back all because of the constant hitting of the water. My disc is literally degenerating - it's impact, impact, impact, but it's something you just have to learn to deal with. I've been told I could [end up in a wheelchair].''
And Tom has admitted he has had to adapt his training schedule to include yoga and ballet, and has had to make the decision to jump off a shorter diving board of three metres in a bid to save his spine.
He said: ''I'm going to have to train smart between now and Tokyo 2020, making sure I'm doing all the preventative things I need to do like yoga, Pilates, ballet and more stretching to make sure I'm in the best shape.''
However, the possibility of becoming disabled doesn't ''scare'' him at all, and he still has his sights set on winning a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Tom - who is engaged to American filmmaker Dustin Lance Black - told the Daily Mail newspaper: ''But I wouldn't say it scares me because I know what I need to do with my body to stay on top of it. The plan is to get to 2020 and beyond.''
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