Wheelchair athlete conquers the Rock of Gibraltar

Paul Smith during the challenge
Paul Smith during the challenge
Windy weather is forecast for tomorrow in Portsmouth
Picture: Chris Bond

Wind weather warning for Portsmouth (but there won’t be any snow)

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DETERMINED Paul Smith pushed himself above and beyond when he smashed his target time in a charity wheelchair climb of Gibraltar Rock.

The 56-year-old raced up the 2.7 miles in his Gibraltar Challenge in just over two hours – despite having been injured when he was knocked from his wheelchair while training in Portsmouth.

Paul, of Cosham, tackled steep inclines to reach the summit in just 2hrs 14mins 1sec – nearly half the target time.

He said: ‘I knew that it was going to be difficult.

‘Despite the hit-and-run incident in December – and the pain and the hard work that we put in this past year – we broke all expectations.

‘We were determined not to allow the person who caused the hit-and-run to prevent us from at least having a go at reaching the top.

‘I’m emotional, proud that we made it, that we’ve raised money for children and hopefully people will continue to donate to get our target.’

Back in December Paul’s dreams of completing the challenge – the eighth and final one in his wheelchair – were almost dashed.

The former Royal Navy sailor suffered injuries to his shoulders when on Havant Road heading toward Farlington and a silver car hit him.

But now Paul is flying high after achieving his goal, adding: ‘It’s been a fantastic journey with fantastic people supporting me.’

Cash raised from the feat will go to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and charity Save the Children in Gilbraltar. If he reaches £10,000 a behind-the-scenes well-wisher will donate another £10,000 to the cause.

Paul, who uses a wheelchair after he was involved in a crash in 1991 where he suffered serious brain injuries and damage to his spine, chest and hip. He was spent 12 years in and out hospitals, mostly in a coma-like state.

His coach Bronwin Carter added: ‘He did it a bit quick – it’s much better than we expected. To finally see him achieve his dream is a fantastic achievement.’

To donate, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/challengegibraltar